BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Mount St. Joseph softball team (32-5, 13-1 HCAC), having already clinched the best record in program history, continued their dominance of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference on Wednesday night. They traveled to Bluffton, Ohio to take on the Beaver of Bluffton (7-27, 2-10 HCAC). The Lions made short work of the Beavers winning each game by way of the 8-run mercy rule. In game one the Lions secured their eigth shutout so far this season. Their team ERA now stands at 1.29 for the year which is good for fourth best in Division III this season.
GAME ONE - Mount St. Joseph 11 - Bluffton 0
After struggling a bit offensively over the last four games the Lions busted out of their slump in a big way in game one. They jumped in front from the very beginning, scoring three times in the top of the first inning. Alehia Tucker (Covington, Ky./Holy Cross) led of the game with a base hit and promptly stole second base, her 21st of the season. She scored the games first run as Brooke Otto (Brookville, Ind./Franklin Co.) laced an RBI single into left center. One batter later Sarah Miller (Fishers, Ind./St. Theodore Guerin) delivered an RBI single. The Lions added one more run on a fly out by Brandy Bunch (Mason, Ohio/Mason), scoring Savannah Sturgill (West Harrison, Ind./East Central).
The Mount added another three runs in the top of the third inning, this time it was the bottom of the lineup providing the thunder. With two outs in the inning, Bunch reached via an error. They then rattled off three consecutive hits Katie Tarter (Fairfield, Ohio/Fairfield) singled, followed by back-to-back doubles by Gracie Woodyard (Plainfield, Ind./Avon) and Paige Hampton (Versailles, Ky./Woodford Co.).
The Lions would play add on in the top of the fifth inning, scoring five runs to put the game into mercy rule territory. The offensive explosion was a welcome sight for the Lions, but due to the continued dominance of the pitching staff. Miller took the hill, and again was nearly unhittable. She threw the front four innings, allowing three hits while striking out six. In the fifth inning Alaina Maddy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Northwest) took over on the mound and allowed only a single hit, striking out one.
GAME TWO - Mount St. Joseph 12 - Bluffton 3
Game number two was a different chapter of the same book for the Lions. Tucker again started the game off by reaching base, this time via the walk. She promptly took off and successfully stole second base again. Two outs later Miller delivered an RBI single, followed by an RBI double by Bunch.
Bluffton was able to push their first run of the day across the plate in the bottom of the first inning. The Lions put the game quickly out of reach in the third inning, with six runs. Bunch, Woodyard and Brianna Kauf (Orrville, Ohio/Orrville) each had RBI hits in the inning.
The Beavers would fight back with a single run in the fourth and fifth innings, but a three run sixth again put The Mount in position for a mercy rule victory.
On the hill coach Goderwis again turned to her usual game two dynamic duo, Kauf and Kamryn McCool (Brookville, Ind./Franklin Co.). Kauf got the start and went the first two innings, allowing a single run while striking out one. McCool went the final 4.0 innings, allowing four hits and two earned runs, while striking out seven.
The Lions have won 28 of their last 30 games, but none are bigger than the two regular season games they have left. The Mount (32-5, 13-1 HCAC) will travel north to take on the Spartans of Manchester with a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship on the line. If the Lions sweep the Spartans they will clinch an outright HCAC Championship, and the right to host the HCAC tournament next weekend. Tune into MSJsports.com for all of your live game coverage of MSJ softball.