Softball begins conference schedule with three-win week

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Will Beverina |

Radford softball took on a doubleheader against N.C. Central at home before beginning its conference slate last weekend. A mix of results saw the Highlanders finish 3-2 on the week.

On Tuesday, the visiting Hawks (3-16) traveled to Radford to take on a Highlanders team that had struggled the previous weekend. Two dominating performances from Radford (13-13) had them back on track.

In game one of the doubleheader, Abby Morrow allowed just one run off of a solo home run in the seventh and final inning of the game, while the Radford bats were productive in their 6-1 win. Morrow allowed only four hits while striking out six. Meanwhile, Maggie Rowe’s three-hit and two-RBI performance led a balanced Radford attack. Hunter Mundy added two hits and two RBI’s of her own.

Game two would be no better for the visiting side, with N.C. Central this time failing to get even one run off of Kayla Huffman from the circle. The sophomore struck out 15 of the Hawks’ batters and preserved the shutout in the seventh inning by getting out of a bases-loaded jam to end the game. Senior right fielder Summer Robinson was the star on offense in game two with two runs, two RBI’s and two hits, including a solo home run in the sixth inning. Mundy and Kayla Bishton added home runs of their own in the 6-0 Radford win.

The Highlanders began their conference schedule the following Friday with a trip to Lynchburg, Va. to take on Liberty (18-13). Starting pitcher Morrow threw four innings of solid ball, allowing just one run on five hits. However, a defensive mistake from the Highlanders in the fifth inning opened up the floodgates for the Flames’ bats. A two-run single from Jaclyn Amador happened after an error allowed two Liberty runners to score, while two more runs came home afterward, one coming off of Huffman in relief, to send the Flames up 5-1 on Radford. All four runs in the fifth inning were unearned.

However, A Mundy home run in the sixth inning wasn’t enough to fuel the Radford comeback, and the Highlanders fell 5-2 on Friday.  A doubleheader on Saturday still gave Radford a shot at winning the series.   The Highlanders looked good to tie up the weekend series, but a seventh-inning collapse ensured Liberty would take home the three-game slate.

Huffman again went to work, pitching 4.1 innings of shutout ball while striking out five and allowing only four hits. On the other end, Radford took a 4-0 lead off of a Rowe three-RBI double in the third inning after Sofia Tapia had scored in the first frame.

However, the comeback for the Flames started in the fifth inning, as they were able to get two runs off of utility player Mallory Marsicek to cut the deficit to 4-2.  A fifth run in the top of the seventh for Radford looked like good enough insurance after a Mundy single brought home Marissa Gagliano for a three-run lead. Unfortunately, with Radford just a half-inning away from tying the series, it all fell apart.

Against Huffman, the Flames were able to plate four runners in the bottom of the seventh, with only two being earned. An Amber Bishop single scored one for Liberty, while Bishop was able to advance to second on a fielding error. Tori Zavodney was then able to score after a fielder’s choice allowed Alexia Taylor to get to second, with a single right afterward sending two Liberty runners home for a four-run seventh inning and a 6-5 win for the Flames.

Game three of the series wasn’t nearly as close, with the Radford offense getting on the scoreboard fast and early for an 11-2, run-rule shortened six-inning win for the Highlanders.

Radford scored early and often, plating three runs in the first inning alone off of a Bishton RBI double and a Rowe two-RBI single. Between the second and fourth frames, Radford would add six more runs—five of them coming in the fourth—to take a massive 9-0 lead over the hosting Flames.

Liberty was able to put up two on the board in the fifth inning, but a two-run homer from Brittany Wratchford in the sixth put the game out of reach at 11-2, ending the night early for the two sides. Morrow and Huffman were in the circle for the Highlanders, with Morrow getting the win after allowing two runs in five innings.

Radford softball will take a brief break from conference play with a mid-week doubleheader against Norfolk State on Wednesday in Radford before taking on Gardner-Webb this weekend in a three-game series in Boiling Springs, N.C.