Portsmouth, Ohio – Shawnee State softball clinched a fourth place finish in the Mid-South Conference on Saturday afternoon, sweeping Cumberland (Tenn.) by winning game one 13-6 and game two 8-7.
The Bears would score three runs in the top of the first to immediately take control. Kayla Koch (JR/Lucasville, Ohio) would single home Ashtyn Saunders (FR/Lancaster, Ohio) after Shawnee State loaded the bases in the first three batters. Tara Duncan (SR/Lancaster, Ohio) then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in Katlyn Gleich (SO/Grove City, Ohio). Marisa Brown (SO/Liberty Township, Ohio) would score on Katie Wolsefer (FR/Franklin, Ohio)'s fielder's choice.
SSU would then break the game open with five runs in the second. Marisa Brown would knock in Ashtyn Saunders with a single, and would be followed by three more RBI singles by Tara Duncan, Mackenzie Riley (SO/Proctorville, Ohio) and Katie Wolsefer, with Riley's driving in two runs.
Cumberland would get back two runs in the bottom half of the second, but SSU would get a run back in the top of the third. Ashtyn Saunders would score her third run of the game on Kayla Koch's RBI double to left field.
The Phoenix one run in the bottom of the fifth and two more in the bottom of the sixth to narrow the score to 9-4, but Shawnee State would leave no doubt with four more runs in the top of the seventh. SSU would load the bases again, and Kayla Koch would single home Victoria Bevington (FR/London, Ohio). Tara Duncan and Mackenzie Riley would get back-to-back RBI walks, and Haley Rawlins (FR/South Point, Ohio) would drive in another with a walk. Cumberland would score two runs in the bottom of the seventh but could not overcome the huge deficit.
Brooke Blevins (FR/Frankfort, Ohio) would throw a complete game, allowing six runs on 15 hits while striking out eight to get the win. Kaitlin Kralj would allow eight runs on eight hits in 1.1 innings to take the loss.
Game two would be the most competitive of the series as Shawnee State would lose an early lead. Marisa Brown would single in Ashtyn Saunders to give SSU a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Tessa Tomaselli and Courtney Miles would each get RBI singles to give Cumberland a 2-1 lead after one inning.
The bottom of the second would be even better for Cumberland as they would score four more runs to extend the lead. Tyra Graham would drive in two runs with an RBI single, Imani Torregano would drive in Graham when Ashtyn Saunders made a wild throw, and Shae Dunn would drive in Torregano with a single to make the score 6-1.
Shawnee State would then mount an incredible comeback in the top of the third, scoring six runs to re-take the lead. Brown would single in Saunders again and move Gleich to third with a single, which would be followed by a two-run double to left by Kayla Koch. After Miranda Melvin (SR/Oak Hill, Ohio) reached base, Victoria Bevington would drive in Koch and move Melvin to second with a single. Katie Wolsefer would then reach base on an error by Cumberland left fielder Ashley Wilson that would allow Melvin and Bevington to score SSU's fifth and sixth runs of the inning and make the score 7-6.
Neither team would score again until the bottom of the sixth. Torregano would reach base on an error by Katie Wolsefer, and after a sacrifice bunt would get home on Shae Dunn's RBI single to make the score 7-7.
However, Shawnee State would not be denied the sweep, scoring the winning run in the top of the seventh. Katlyn Gleich would lead the inning off by reaching on an error by Cumberland shortstop Tyra Graham, and would reach second on Marisa Brown's walk. Kayla Koch would then get the clutch hit, singling to center to drive in Gleich.
McKenzie Whittaker (SO/McDermott, Ohio) would go the distance in game two for Shawnee State, allowing seven runs on eight hits, with only two of the runs being earned, and striking out three in seven innings to get the win. Nicole Pratt would allow one run on three hits in four innings of relief to take the loss.
The wins improve Shawnee State's record to 21-16 overall, and the Bears finish the Mid-South Conference comfortably in fourth place with a record of 12-12 in the league. Cumberland are now 15-31-1 and 2-22 in the league.
Shawnee State softball will host Senior Day on Monday, April 17th when they play Kentucky Christian in a doubleheader. First pitch is set for 3:00pm with the senior day ceremony planned for between games one and two.