Lightning first innings and knockout pitching propelled the Akron Zips softball team (18-15) to a 4-0 and 8-0 twinbill sweep of the Robert Morris Colonials (17-22) Tuesday at Lee Jackson Field.
“Lightning first innings and knockout pitching propelled the Akron Zips softball team (18-15) to a 4-0 and 8-0 twinbill sweep of the Robert Morris Colonials (17-22) Tuesday at Lee Jackson Field.
After a four-game losing streak on the road, the Zips did not delay in righting their ship by exploding for four opening-inning runs against the Colonials. Back-to-back singles by Katie Gross and Alissa Birkhimer set the pieces into position. Heather Bauer followed with a double to left field that sent Gross across the plate and moved Birkhimer to third, giving the Zips the 1-0 edge. Olivia Hegedus then completed the puzzle with a three-run rocket that cleared the right-center field fence. The senior Hegedus, who saw only limited playing time the last three seasons, now stands alone with a team-leading nine home runs.
The Zips hit only 3-for-19 and fail to score for the remainder of the contest. However, the 4-0 lead they built in the first inning was more than enough as Alex Riedeman (9-5) hurled her fourth shutout of the season while allowing just six hits and striking out two.
We were very excited to get back on the win side of things, Akron Softball Head Coach Julie Jones said after snapping a four-game losing streak. We were very disappointed in our performance in different ways throughout that stretch.
The Zips started the later game off in similar fashion. Alex Feltes was hit by a pitch to lead off Akron. Birkhimer followed two batters later by drawing a walk, and Bauer also got aboard first after she was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Hegedus once again delivered with a single to right field that scored Feltes. With the ducks still on the pond, Sarah Earley drove in two more runs with a single to center to give Akron a 3-0 lead after the first inning.
Feltes was hit by a pitch for the second straight inning to start Akron’s next scoring threat. Gross then reached base on an error and a Birkhimer groundout put both runners in scoring position without a single hit. Bauer followed with a walk to load the bases before Hegedus drove in her fifth run of the day with a single to left that scored Feltes. Akron left the bases loaded, but remained comfortably ahead at 4-0.
The Zips tacked on two more runs in both the third and fourth innings. Cassie Gleisner doubled to lead off the inning and Sarah Stromack sacrificed her to third. Alex Helfrich next reached base on a fielder’s choice and then stole second base before a balk allowed her to take third base and Glesiner to score. Next, a Feltes sacrifice fly to center brought Helfrich home.
In the fourth inning, Birkhimer singled, Bauer reached on an error and Hegedus reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. The Colonials retired the next two Akron batters before they again made another error, allowing Stromack to reach base and both the pinch-running Felicia Houtz and Bauer to score.
On the mound, Andrea Arney retired the Colonials 1-2-3 in the fifth to earn her first complete game shutout of the season. Akron’s 8-0 victory was their first mercy rule win of the season and only second all year since beating St. Peter’s 12-1 in the Rebel Spring Games March 14.
We shut them out both games; we had some pretty good pitching, played good defense, and in this game continued to hit the ball, which is exactly what we told them to do prior to the game, Jones said of the Zips’ effort. We are looking forward to getting back on track in the MAC.
The Zips will go on a six-game road trip which includes four conference games this weekend. They will first play a doubleheader at Western Michigan Friday, then travel to Northern Illinois for a two-game series Saturday and Sunday, before returning to Ohio for a doubleheader at Youngstown State Tuesday.