Softball Bears Pair of Losses in Day One of Buckhead Classic
ATLANTA, Ga. – The Mercer Bears defense ranked second in the Atlantic Sun Conference coming into the SpringHill Suites Buckhead Classic on Saturday, but the usually reliable, confident defense looked out of sorts in two losses against in-state foes.
The Orange and Black lost 2-3 against Georgia State and 2-8 against tournament host No. 11 Georgia Tech on the tournament's first day. The Bears gave up six errors in the two games, many of which extended innings and gave their opponents additional opportunities to score.
In game one against Georgia State, the Bears offense quietly produced throughout the game and put the team into position to win going into the bottom of the seventh. With a 2-1 lead and riding a season-high strikeout performance by junior pitcher Jenni Holtz, the Bears seemed destined for their 15th win of the season.
That is until the Panthers had the beginning of their lineup facing the resilient Holtz. With one out, GSU's Danielle Roddy reached on an infield single to second basemen Amanda Santa Maria. Roddy represented the tying run on the base pads.
State's Audrey Mason would then double down the right field line past the outstretched arms of sophomore Jenny Goodman scoring Roddy from first and allowing Mason to take third on the throw. The next batter, Lauren Jones, trickled a single to first driving in the game-winner from third.
In total, Mercer had four errors against the Panthers overshadowing Holtz's 14 strikeouts, again a season high for the junior from Tracy, Calif. Holtz now leads the A-Sun in strikeouts in 2010 with 140 and is only four strikeouts away from 600 career K's.
The Bears offensive bright spot in game one was sophomore third baseman Lilli Luke. Luke scored the go ahead run as the lead-off batter in the fifth inning on a solo home run to left center. It was her second on the year.
Game two saw sophomore pitcher Jessie Holmes get her second start of the season and get behind early as Tech scored five runs in the bottom of the first. The second batter Holmes faced happened to be Yellow Jackets All-American second baseman Jen Yee. Yee took a 1-1 pitch deep to left center for a two-run homerun to get the Jackets started.
Yet, the Bears could have escaped the inning with just the two runs had it not been for an uncharacteristic error by senior left fielder Holly Oglesbee. With two outs, Oglesbee lost a routine fly in the sun, dropping the ball and extending the inning. Two batters later, Tech's Jessica Sinclair made good on the error by driving a three-run homerun to left. It was just Oglesbee second error in 24 games this season.
Sophomore Kristen Marko tried to answer the Tech home runs with one of her own in the top of the second, taking the first offering from Jackets starting pitcher Jessica Coan deep to left. Marko's third on the season, a solo shot, was the only run the Bears could muster in the inning yet proved pivotal in maintaining the run-rule through five.
Play was then suspended in the middle of the third for a 21 minute rain delay.
After the rain let up junior pitcher Natalie Jones came in and did a solid job against the Yellow Jackets, giving up just one run on four hits in four innings of work. The Bears added a run in the sixth off Tech relief pitcher Rachel Glazebrook, but could not close the gap losing 8-2 in seven.
This same Georgia Tech team and Fordham pose another difficult double-header of softball on Sunday for the final day of the inaugural Buckhead Classic. First pitch against Tech is slated for 1:30 p.m. with the tournament finale scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Again, all games can be seen live on ramblinwreck.com. Check back to mercerbears.com for more details closer to the start of the game.