From University of Rochester Athletics
Pitching and hitting determine lots of games. Defense, though, is sometimes overlooked – and can play a huge role in the outcome of an event.
Big defensive plays, plus a clutch hit here and there, and strong pitching performances led Rochester to a doubleheader sweep of RIT in softball. The Yellowjackets squeezed out a 2-1 victory in game one in 11 innings, then took a 3-2 win in game two in eight innings.
The DH sweep puts Rochester into first place in the Liberty League standings. The Yellowjackets are 8-2 with two league games remaining. They will host St. Lawrence on May 1 and celebrate Senior Day at the same time. Overall, Rochester is 20-20.
RPI split its DH vs. Clarkson on Saturday and stands at 6-2. RIT slipped to 4-6 in league play and 13-17 overall. The Tigers are still in the Liberty League playoff hunt. They host St. Lawrence on April 30.
In game one, Rochester produced a clutch RBI hit in the top of the 11th, but it was a key defensive play in the bottom of the 10th that had a great deal to do with the victory.
The Yellowjackets were knotted, 1-1, through nine innings. Each team scored once in the eighth. For UR, pinch-hitter Lauren Muni was hit by a pitch and Raegen Herne ran for her. Herne advanced on a sac bunt, then scored on Kayla Kibling's single to center with two outs.
In RIT's half, McKenzie Martin singled. After a strikeout, she moved to second on a groundout by Danielle Hotz and scored on Amanda Cook's single to right.
The tiebreaker went into play in the 10th. Caitlin Price was placed at second and bunted to third. Harleigh Kaczegowicz tried to bunt her home but Emily Lazarus grabbed the bunt and tagged out Price for the second out. Kibling's single put two on and Shelby Corning was hit by a pitch to load the bases. RIT pitcher Sierra Valentine retired Jocelynn Blackshear on a flyout to right after Blackshear had doubled and singled in her last two at-bats.
Lazarus was placed at second for the Tigers. She was bunted to third with the top of the order coming up. Eleni Wechsler induced McKenzie Martin to hit a grounder to Kibling at short. She looked Lazarus back to third and threw to first. Lazarus took off for home as soon as the ball was released. Rachael Pletz threw home and Kaczegowicz tagged out Lazarus for out number two. Sarah Thayer popped out to end the inning.
Blackshear was placed at second in the UR 11th. Pletz bunted her to third and she scored on Mackenzie Cronin's double. In the RIT 11th, Thayer was placed at second. She moved to third on a flyout to center by Hotz. Cook grounded out to Pletz with the runner holding and Tori Blaker grounded to Kibling to end it.
Wechsler struck out nine, allowed four hits, and two walks. Valentine also struck out nine. She allowed eight hits, did not issue a walk, and hit two batters.
In the nitecap, Rochester fell behind, 2-0, after three innings. Cook doubled home Martin in the bottom of the first. The Tigers added an unearned run in the third on two Rochester errors. Alexa Farner reached second when Elizabeth Bourne threw away her comebacker. She moved to third with one out after Cook singled. Cook stole second and the ball was thrown away, allowing Farner to score.
Rochester strung together four hits off Lauren Mahar in the top of the fifth to tie it. Kaczegowicz doubled and Herne came on to run. Kibling doubled her home, moved up on a groundout, and scored on Blackshear's single to right.
Bourne settled down, retiring nine in a row through the first batter of the sixth. Blaker tripled with one out. Sam Killian reached on a single to the mound with Blaker holding. RIT tried a double steal. Kaczegowicz's throw was cut off by Kibling who fired home to get Blaker while the runner advanced one base. Bourne caught a liner to end the inning.
Both teams went three-up, three-down in the seventh. Cronin popped up to start the eighth. Wechsler singled. A groundout advanced her to second and Pletz hit a pinch-hit double for the go-ahead run.
Kibling made another big play in the bottom of the eighth. The Tigers had runners on first and second with one down. She fielded Blaker's grounder up the middle, stepped on second and fired to Muni at first for the game-ending double play.
Bourne scattered eight hits and walked one. She had three strikeouts. Mahar gave up nine hits, three earned runs, walked one, and fanned four.