By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
The Anderson University softball team hoped to send a message with Tuesday’s season-ending doubleheader against Mount St. Joseph’s.
Consider it delivered.
The two-time defending Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament champions will head to Manchester as the No. 2 seed in this year’s event beginning Friday. Judging by the Ravens’ offensive fireworks in 9-6 and 10-2 victories against the Lions, they still might be the team to beat.
“We just need to work on our consistency,” said Amy Wuestefeld, one of seven seniors who made their final home appearance Tuesday. “It was huge for us just to get our stuff together.”
AU won with a familiar formula, jumping ahead with big hits early and trusting timely hitting to hold on to the advantage.
Senior Natalie Moorhouse got things started in the second inning of a Game 1, igniting a seven-run outburst with a grand slam to straightaway center field. The Ravens added three more runs in the frame on a wild pitch, an RBI groundout and one of four Lions’ errors.
AU stretched the lead to 9-2 in the fifth on an RBI single by Lys Hess, who later scored the second run on a wild pitch, but left the bases loaded with a chance to end the game by the eight-run mercy rule.
Given new life, Mount St. Joseph’s scored once in the sixth and rallied for three runs in the seventh. The Lions brought the tying run to the plate five times in the final inning but ultimately left runners on first and second when reliever Devin Moorman coaxed a sacrifice fly and a popout to end the game.
Sami Frazier allowed two runs on five hits in the first five innings to pick up the win.
“We wanted to keep our starting lineup intact,” head coach Tony Holloway said. “But it was also important to make sure we got everybody a little bit of playing time today. You don’t know who you’re going to need when you get to the tournament. You don’t know what will happen.”
It turned out about all the Ravens needed in Game 2 was senior Megan Ream.
Her three-run homer over the right field fence broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the first inning, and she added an RBI double in the third to finish 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
“It was important because how we played today was going to influence our attitude going into the tournament,” Ream said. “We needed to kind of wake our bats up and have them ready to face Bluffton (in the first round on Friday).”
Slumbering bats were not a problem against Mount St. Joseph’s.
The Ravens scored twice in the third and once in the fourth to take a comfortable 7-2 lead.
Pinch-hitting Sami Frazier started a three-run rally with two outs in the fifth inning with a home run off a tree just beyond the center field fence. Two pitchers earlier Frazier hit an even longer foul ball that threatened the neighboring yards well out of play in left field.
Nichole Frazier followed with a double, and Samantha Steele’s RBI single made it 9-2.
Steele advanced to second on a throwing error and moved to third on a wild pitch with Moorman at the plate. Wuestefeld, whose .495 batting average is just one point lower than the school record set by Jamie Lawson in 2005, initially came out in the on-deck circle.
But she was replaced by pinch-hitter Katie McCool before Moorman drew a full-count walk.
Holloway said after the game he didn’t realize Wuestefeld was so close to history. He also said it wouldn’t have mattered.
If the Batesville native had known she could pass Lawson with a hit, she still would have sat for a pinch-hitter if Holloway believed that would best help the team.
“The most important thing for her was the team winning,” Holloway said. “She’s had a remarkable season.”
The move made little difference as Steele scored the 10th run on a wild pitch just three pitches into McCool’s at-bat, ending the game because of the mercy rule.
Wuestefeld, who was 3-for-3 in the first game and 0-for-2 in the second, still will have a chance to set the record during the conference tournament.
“If you look at (her 51 hits), probably half of them are just bunts that landed in the right spot,” she said. “I’m lucky God gave me quick feet.”
The games also served a higher purpose Tuesday. Both teams wore special uniforms in an effort to “Throw Out the Silence on Domestic Violence.” Money raised during the doubleheader was donated to Alternatives Inc., the local domestic violence shelter.
Alternatives CEO Mary Jo Lee threw out the first pitch, and children from the shelter were on hand and took photos with the AU players between games.