By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Columbus, Ohio---Sloppy defense hurt the Owens Community College softball team in an 11-3 six inning loss to Muskegon Community College in a Region XII District I winner's bracket semifinal at Berliner Park today.
Owens allowed nine unearned runs in the game - seven in the fourth and two in the sixth, while the offense got off to a slow start, likely in part due to not playing since clinching a conference championship on April 29.
While the first six batters for Owens were being retired by Muskegon starter Morgan Engelsman, the Muskegon offense got a key two out, two run single from Morgan Giddings in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead.
In the third, Owens had a key scoring chance when Angelique Prunty (Elyria/Elyria, Ohio) doubled off the wall in left center and Sabina Watson (Bradford/Starke, Fla.) singled to set up a first and third situation with one out. Jacey Gray (Springfield/Holland, Ohio), however, lined into a tough luck 6-3 double play to end the threat.
Muskegon then exploded for seven runs in the fourth to break the game open. A pair of errors extended the inning against Owens starter Kailey Minarchick (Columbia Station/Columbia Station, Ohio).
Muskegon got a two-run single from Carrie Mesman and a three-run home run to center from Briana Mairose to open up a 7-0 lead and chase Minarchick. Miranda Benschoter (Elmwood/Bloomdale, Ohio) relieved her and gave up a two-run single to Lindsey Helsen before the inning was over.
The Owens offense started to wake up in the fifth. Jordan Hanf (Whitmer/Toledo, Ohio), Lindsey Wiggins (Bradford/Brooker, Fla.) and Emily Young (Maumee/Maumee, Ohio) picked up three straight singles to start the rally, with Young's single scoring Haley Kreger (Bedford/Temperance, Mich.), who pinch ran for Hanf.
One out later, Watson singled through the right side to score Wiggins. Gray followed with a bunt single to score Young and pull Owens within six, but the next two batters were retired as Owens stranded two in scoring position.
Benschoter thought she had a 1-2-3 sixth inning, but an error during the third at bat allowed Alexis Melto to pick up an RBI double before Giddings added another RBI hit on a single to bumped the lead back up to eight.
Olivia Myers (Elmwood/Bloomdale, Ohio) got a pinch hit single up the middle to lead off the bottom of the sixth, but the next three batters were retired as Owens fell into the loser's bracket.
Watson led Owens with a 2-for-2, one RBI performance, while six others picked up one hit apiece. Giddings finished 3-for-4 with a run, a stolen base and three RBI to lead Muskegon.
Engelsman improved to 20-3 with the win in the circle for Muskegon. She allowed five hits and three runs while stirking out four over four innings. Minarchick (14-7) took the loss after allowing nine hits on eight singles, seven runs (two earned) and one walk. She struck out two.
Benschoter's final line included 2.2 innings, seven hits, four runs (zero earned), two walks and one strikeout.
Owens (25-13 overall) will take on Kalamazoo Valley Community College at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the loser's bracket quarterfinals. They must win three games tomorrow to stay alive in the tournament, and then two more games on Friday to capture the championship.
Muskegon, meanwhile, improved to 40-12 this year. They will take on Lansing Community College at 12 p.m. in the winner's bracket finals tomorrow.