Four straight wins including two shutouts in the Radford Invitational; it’s exactly the way the Highlanders would have liked to open things up at home. In the first two games against Lehigh University and Binghamton University on Saturday, March 17, the Highlanders grabbed their first home win of the season against Lehigh with a 3-0 shutout.
Freshman shortstop Micalah Sacre’s double in the third inning scored the first run for Radford, allowing senior outfielder Hannah Ojeda to cross the plate first for the Highlanders, and then sophomore utility Jessie Hutchens’ single brought Sacre home to double Radford’s lead.
Sacre brought Ojeda in one more time in the sixth inning for Radford’s third run, and the Highlanders managed to take the win. Junior pitcher Jackie Jenkins was accredited with the shutout win.
“I just kept focus and had faith in my teammates,” said Jenkins. “The first inning when they got the first two batters on base and they had no outs, but I just zoned in on our catcher and threw my game.”
Game two against Binghampton saw the Bearcats strike in the first inning with a solo homer from junior outfielder Jessica Phillips, but the Highlanders responded with two runs of their own to take the lead. The Highlanders dominated game for the rest of way until the last inning, and held a 6-2 advantage at the end of the sixth inning.
In the top of the seventh, the Bearcats gave Radford a scare, however, scoring three runs from senior Outfielder Meghan Tucker, and then a home run from sophomore Mikala King added two more to bring Binghamton to within a 6-5 deficit, but Radford finally managed to hold them off for the second win.
“We weren’t going to lose on our home field,” said junior utility Ryndee Ruch. “We came out knowing that and we worked together as a team. I think we’ll take that throughout the season; working together.”
Ruch recorded two hits in the win over the Bearcats.
“We took advantage of their miscues in the outfield,” said Head Coach Mickey Dean after the second win. “We turned singles into doubles and we turned double into triples, and then we stole some bases. So I think the difference in that second game especially was that we stole some runs that, not necessarily we would have scored if we’d played base-to-base stationary.”
In the second set games on Sunday, March 18, Radford first played Binghamton, and took a 1-0 shutout win, allowing only one hit in the whole game. Hutchens’ single in the sixth inning of a game that looked like it’d go into extra innings, brought Sacre across the plate for Radford’s victory. Freshman pitcher Emily Norton was accredited with the win for game three.
“I really concentrated on staying calm on the mound,” Norton said. “I tried not to let the little things get to me. I just tried to pitch my game.”
Radford’s final victory over Lehigh in the Radford Invitational saw the Highlanders trailing 2-0 in the top of the first inning after a two run homer from senior shortstop Jennifer Colquhoun. The Highlanders however, in the bottom of the first and second innings, put up three runs of their own. After that, they led the rest of the way and ended the day with a 4-3 victory, on a four game home winning streak.
“I thought we pitched well overall,” said Dean after the final game. “We had some bad innings, but I thought overall we pitched well. We were a little more aggressive with our at-bats this weekend. We still need to be more aggressive, especially early in the count. We’re still watching way too many first pitch strikes and I thought our defense was superb.”
The Highlanders this weekend improved their record to 12-8, and begin Big South play on Wednesday, March 21 with an away game against Liberty University.