Bears Take One of Two Against UConn
MACON, Ga. – After rain hampered much of the 2011 Georgia Tech "Buzz Classic," the Mercer Bears softball team was able to salvage a doubleheader on Monday, splitting a pair of games against the University of Connecticut, 4-0 and 4-3.
Mercer and Connecticut agreed to play the Monday doubleheader after several of their games were cancelled because of the rain this weekend.
Senior Kari Chambers took the ball in game one and had another stellar outing, striking out 12 batters en route to her third complete game shutout on the year. In Chambers last two outings; she has thrown 16 innings of scoreless softball while striking out 20 batters.
Chambers was helped out by some adept batting by the Bears offense in game one. Junior first baseman Kassie Bailey had a two-run RBI double in the bottom of the second inning to put the Bears early on. She finished going 2-for-3 in game one.
The Bears next batter, senior Amanda Santa Maria, lined a single down the first base line and scored Bailey from second putting the Bears up 3-0 at the end of two.
Heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Bears maintained the 3-0 lead when freshman third baseman Randi Rea continued her hot streak at the plate. Rea recorded her fourth homerun of the season taking UConn's Ali Adelman pitch deep over the fence in left center.
Rea had the Bears first grand slam of the season this past weekend against Austin Peay and on Monday tied junior Sara Stukes for the team lead. She finished the day going 3-for-5 with three RBI and is second on the team in with 17 runs batted in.
Chambers would finish out the game giving up just three hits and only two walks. She improved her overall record to 5-4 on the year.
Game two started with the Bears getting behind early as senior pitcher Jenni Holtz was tagged for a run on two hits in the top of the first.
The Bears would even things up with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning as freshman McKenzie Woody moved her way around the bases after singling to third. Rea would plate Woody on a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher to tie the game at one.
Holtz fell behind again in the top of the second when the Huskies lead-off batter Marissa Guches homered to center. Guches solo shot put the Huskies back on top 2-1. Connecticut got two more runs in the third and fifth innings before Mercer staged a would-be comeback in the final three innings.
In the top of the third Holtz was hit by a line drive and was forced to come out with a badly bruised arm. All told she went two complete innings and gave up three runs. Chambers threw the next three innings before Bailey took over in the sixth.
The Bears have yet to come back to win after trailing in the fifth inning this season, yet Monday was perhaps their closest attempt pulling within one in the bottom of the seventh.
Mercer earned a run in the bottom of the fifth when sophomore Sarah Santana hit her first home run of the season, making the score 4-2. After a scoreless sixth, the Bears were able to themselves in a favorable position in the seventh.
Senior Anna Johnson bunt singled in the bottom of the seventh and advanced to second on a passed ball. Then with two outs Rea knocked in her third RBI of the day when she singled down the right field line, scoring Johnson from second.
Kristen Marko then pinch hit for freshman Krista Kennedy and was able to keep the inning alive as she hit an infield single. The Bears' next hope was Bailey who had two on and two outs with the tying run on second. Unfortunately, Bailey struck out swinging and ended the Bears threat.
The Bears set out on the road again on Wednesday playing a doubleheader against in-state rival Georgia Southern in Statesboro before heading back home for a doubleheader against Samford on Thursday.