OWU splits with Wittenberg in NCAC opener


By Zane Kieffer

For the Gazette

Sophomore catcher Erin Ferguson (Greenwich, Conn.) blasted a pair of doubles to help propel the Ohio Wesleyan softball team past Wittenberg 3-1 in the first game of a North Coast Athletic Conference doubleheader on Sunday at Margaret Sagan Field.

In the nightcap, Wittenberg built a 4-1 lead and withstood a pair of Ohio Wesleyan rallies to salvage a 4-2 win and a split of the twinbill.

Ohio Wesleyan got on the board in the first inning of the opener when Ferguson had an RBI groundout, scoring junior shortstop Amanda Boyle (Niagara Falls, N.Y.).

Boyle singled up the middle in the fifth inning, advancing senior second baseman Jess Gooden (Lexington), who was hit by a pitch to open the inning, to second. Boyle and Gooden moved to second and third on a passed ball and sophomore centerfielder Ashley Day (Plain City/Jonathan Alder) singled to left field to drive in Boyle and extend the Bishops’ lead 2-0.

Wittenberg closed to within 2-1 in the top of the sixth inning when Kaela Hughes led off with a single up the middle and moved to second on an infield out off the bat of Katy Baumgartner. Senior lefthander Sarah Flint (Westerville/St. Francis DeSales) came back to get Lauren Buelow for the second out, but Lauren Combs followed with a single to left. Senior leftfielder Lilly Gresh (Westerville/North) came up throwing and fired home in time to get Hughes at the plate, but Ferguson lost the ball on the tag, with Combs sprinting all the way to third on the play. Looking to catch the Bishop defense napping, Combs then tried to score the tying run, but Flint got to the plate in time and made the tag to end the inning.

The Bishops got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Ferguson led off with a double to center and advanced to third when junior first baseman Taylor Dickson (Baltimore/Liberty Union) grounded out. Gresh produced an RBI single down the left field line to score Ferguson and give the Bishops a 3-1 lead.

Ferguson went 2-for-3 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored, and Day went 2-3 with an RBI.

Flint was the winning pitcher for the Bishops, going all 7 innings and only giving up 1 run on 7 hits.

Hughes led Wittenberg, going 2-for-3, and Chelsea Zang was the losing pitcher for the Tigers.

In the second game, Zang stroked a RBI single to right field in the first inning, scoring Missy Lee and giving the Tigers their first lead of the day.

Wittenberg added 2 more runs in the top of the fourth inning, with Lauren Buelow doubling in one run and later scoring on the front end of a double steal.

In the bottom of the fourth, Flint and Ferguson opened the inning with singles, and one out later, Gresh hit an RBI single down the leftfield line, scoring Flint to make it 3-1.

The Tigers would take a 4-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning, taking advantage of a couple of Ohio Wesleyan errors and scoring on Abby Baker’s RBI single to left.

The Bishops threatened in the bottom of the fifth, getting singles from Boyle and Day to chase Tiger starter Abby Haab. After Zang came on in relief, the runners stole second and third and Flint drew a walk to load the bases, but Zang got out of the inning by retiring Ferguson and Ciskon.

With 2 outs in the bottom of the seventh, Flint beat out an infield single and a throwing error by Wittenberg shortstop Combs allowed Boyle to score and Flint to advance to second base, but Zang got the final out to end the game.

Flint paced the Bishops offensively, going 3-for-3 with a run scored. She pitched the first 2.0 innings and took the loss.

Baker led the Tigers with 3 hits, an RBI, and a run scored. Haab got the win in the circle for Wittenberg and Zang pitched the final 2.2 innings to collect a save.