For Immediate Release
Softball -- March 24, 2012
Red Devils Claim First SLIAC Victory
WASHINGTON, Ill. – Eureka College senior shortstop Sara Hamilton (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./Illinois Central) clobbered a towering three-run home run in the sixth inning of game two during Saturday’s St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader versus Westminster, capping a burst of nine unanswered runs by the Red Devils in a 9-7 league win over the Blue Jays at Jan M. Smith Memorial Field in Washington, Ill. Westminster claimed an 8-5 win in the opener for the twinbill split.
The Red Devils (3-9, 1-1 SLIAC) fell behind 3-0 in the nightcap, as Westminster’s Molly Adler lifted a home run to center field in the first inning to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. The visitors tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning. Megan Kaysinger scored from first base after the Eureka defense misplayed a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Emily Kesel. Talisha Washington singled two batters later and scored on Lori Jones’s RBI single to push the Blue Jays to the 3-0 cushion.
Eureka started chipping away at the deficit in the bottom half of the fourth, as back-to-back WC fielding errors allowed sophomore catcher Emily Campbell (Pontiac, Ill./Pontiac H.S.) to pull an RBI single into left field for a 3-1 deficit. Sophomore first baseman Amanda Murphy (Manteno, Ill./Manteno H.S.) added a two-out RBI double later in the frame to make the score 3-2. Eureka ultimately tied the contest one inning later when Hamilton scored on a passed ball from WC catcher Rai’an Harris. Each of Eureka’s first three runs were unearned.
After EC starting pitcher Karson Gragert (Georgetown, Ill./Georgetown-Ridge Farm H.S.) sat the Blue Jays down in order in the top of the sixth inning, the Red Devils completed their comeback with a six-run sixth inning. Campbell started the rally with a leadoff double to left field. A bunt single from junior Sarah Jesse (Mackinaw, Ill./Bloomington H.S.) and a walk to Murphy loaded the bases, and pinch runner Taylor Newby (Lindenhurst, Ill./Lakes H.S.) scored the go-ahead run for a 4-3 lead when another passed ball skipped off the glove of Harris behind the plate. Sophomore center fielder Caty Eeten (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S./Illinois Central) later drilled a two-run double two batters in front of Hamilton, who completed the rally with the three-run shot just inside the left field foul pole for a 9-3 cushion.
Westminster (6-6, 1-1 SLIAC) put five of its first six batters on base to start the seventh inning to promptly trim its deficit to 9-7. Jesse ultimately came on in relief, needing only five pitches to record the final two outs of the game with the tying run at the plate and earn her first career save.
Campbell paced the offense in the victory with a 3-for-4 showing. Hamilton’s homer was her third of the season and eighth of her career. She ranks second on the all-time Eureka home run list. Gragert tossed 6.1 innings to earn her second victory of the season.
The Blue Jays plated four runs in the second inning of the opener and never looked back to earn the 8-5 triumph. Becca Rose yanked a three-run home run down the left field line to open the scoring.
The Red Devils cut their deficit in half in the fourth inning. Hamilton coaxed a four-pitch walk to start the inning and later scored on a deep opposite-field home run from junior second baseman Kelli Dunne (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods H.S./Illinois Central). Each squad plated three runs in the fifth inning. Dunne ripped a bases-loaded single to left field during the frame, as all three runs came around to score after Kaysinger misplayed the bouncing ball in left field. The play allowed Eureka to claw back within two runs, 7-5.
Westminster got an insurance run in the sixth when Washington’s single was misplayed in the outfield to allow Rose to score from first base. The Red Devils ultimately brought the tying run to the plate in their final at-bat after a bunt single from Eeten and a walk to Dunne, but Westminster starter Sarah Schneider recorded a strikeout to give the Blue Jays the win.
Dunne’s fourth-inning home run was her third of the season. She went 2-for-3 with four runs driven in. Eeten, who was making her first start of the season, tacked on a 2-for-3 effort with a run scored.
Muddy and unplayable field conditions at Eureka’s campus diamond forced the change to Washington’s Jan M. Smith Memorial Field on Saturday. Eureka will have less than 24 hours to prepare for its next doubleheader, as Monmouth visits Sunday for a 1 p.m. non-conference doubleheader. Sunday’s games will also be played in Washington.
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