Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania softball team finished off its regular season by picking up win number 30 of the year by sweeping the Ohio Northern University Polar Bears 3-0 and 3-2 on Monday afternoon at Hall Field.
Senior pitcher Renae Morton earned her seventh shutout over her last eight starts in the game-one victory while junior outfielder Shelby Gambrell capped off the night with a walk-off RBI bunt to deliver the Pioneers to a sweep of the day against a key Central Region nonconference opponent.
The opening game of the afternoon featured a magnificent pitchers' duel between Morton and Ohio Northern's Kirsten Lightel, who carried combined win-loss records of 32-6 into the afternoon. For the first two and a half innings, the scoreboard remained blank as each team looked to mount an offensive punch.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Pioneers made their move to go in front for good. Sophomore infielder Laurel Major led off with a base hit and freshman infielder Cece Wittry drew a walk. Junior infielder Brittany Mumford reached base on an error to load the bases and junior outfielder Shelby Gambrell scored the first run of the day on a sacrifice fly, scoring Major for a 1-0 lead.
In the next at-bat, junior infielder Meg Liter smacked a hard-hit ball to the four-hole to score Wittry and Mumford for the 3-0 lead.
The lead held firm the rest of the way as Morton shut down the Polar Bears lineup, ringing up six strikeouts on the day. It was the senior's seventh shutout over her last eight starts.
Transylvania mustered just two hits in the first game but it was all the Pioneers needed with both coming in the pivotal third inning.
The Pioneers obtained a 1-0 advantage in the third inning of game two off an RBI bunt single from Wittry that scored pinch runner Tabitha Sizemore. The Polar Bears took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning and threatened more as the visitors mustered four consecutive hits. Junior relief pitcher Tayler Thompson limited the damage as the Pioneers stayed within one run of the Polar Bears.
Transylvania swung back again in the bottom of the fourth inning as sophomore designated player Sydney Motell scored Liter on a sacrifice fly RBI to tie the game at 2-2.
The Pioneers put runners on base in each of the next two innings but could not find the go-ahead run. Freshman pitcher Jessica Gunter stepped in for relief, retiring the side in the sixth inning and leaving two runners stranded in the fifth to keep the Pioneers in the thick of the battle.
The payoff came in the bottom of the seventh inning for Transylvania. Wittry drove a one-out single into left field, and Mumford followed with a hard-hit double into left centerfield. Gambrell stepped up and placed down a bunt midway between the circle and home plate as Wittry sprinted and slid home for the game-winning run.
With the pair of wins, the Pioneers complete their season with a record of 30-6. Transylvania now looks ahead to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, beginning Friday, May 4. After winning the HCAC regular-season title, the Pioneers have earned the No. 1 seed and will host the three-day tournament. The Pioneers' first tournament game is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Friday at Hall Field.
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