Leafs Edged Out Of MCC Tourney With 2-1 Losses
MARION, Ind. - The Mid-Central College Conference had little expectations of the Maple Leafs softball team coming into this week's conference tournament. After a complicated three-way tiebreaker, Goshen was seeded #8 and would have to start its first MCC Tournament in two years against top-seeded Bethel College.
"Now that the ladies are done with exams, we can really focus on softball for a few days," said head coach Lee Mast. "They are really excited and I think we are going to really surprise some people."
While wet, rainy weather put a wrench into each round of the double-elimination tournament, the Maple Leafs waited out the rain before putting together some of their most solid play of the season.
Unfortunately, against national-title contender Bethel College, that was not quite enough to pull out a victory. Goshen dropped its opening game of the 2009 MCC Tournament 2-1 to the top-seeded Pilots Tuesday afternoon.
Bethel was able to tally two runs in the bottom of the third inning as they pounded out four hits in the first three frames.
Meanwhile, Pilot starter Rachel Zirille - who came in with an E.R.A. of under 2.0 in conference play - was on her game early. Zirille held the Leafs hitless until the seventh and final inning when sophomore Leah Lehman broke through with a triple. Senior Amy Clem quickly added a single up the middle to put Goshen on the board and one run away from a tie.
The Pilots and Zirille, however, shut the door and Goshen fell by a 2-1 count. Freshman Jessica Reed came in out of the bullpen to give up just one hit over three innings as her and senior Haly Williamson combined to hold a powerful Bethel lineup to just five hits and two runs on the day.
Now in the loser's bracket, the Maple Leafs would try to fight off elimination against a very strong Huntington University squad, who was seeded #4 in the tournament.
This time around, Goshen jumped to the lead as Clem blasted a solo home run to lead of the second inning. For Clem it was her 11th homer of the season as she extended her single-season Goshen College record. Clem would ultimately finish her career with 15, which places her second all-time behind 2002 graduate Candy Feare with 18.
Goshen jumped to the early lead against Huntington University on Wednesday as senior Amy Clem extended her single-season home run record with a leadoff shot in the second inning.
Down by a single run, the Foresters rallied for a single run in the third before taking their first lead with another single tally in the sixth. While the Leafs committed only two errors in the contest, they both were costly as both Forester runs were unearned.
Senior Haly Williamson had a strong finish to a outstanding collegiate career as she fired five and one-thirds innings, while giving up just four hits and no earned runs on the day. Her 10 wins in 2009 ranks fourth all-time for a single season, while her 83 strikeouts is the second-highest single-season total.
While Goshen was unable to find a win in the two-day event, the Leafs did leave with the respect of the conference. First-year head coach Lee Mast has quickly turned the program around from not fielding a team in 2008 to an 11-30 season surpassing the win total from the past three years combined.