The Akron Zips softball team (18-19, 2-8) sunk to a new low after going 0-4 on their second straight road trip in as many weeks. The Zips fell to Western Michigan (14-24, 8-4) 9-0 and 6-4 on Friday and Northern Illinois (18-19, 8-3) 4-3 and 3-2 on Sunday.
“The Akron Zips softball team (18-19, 2-8) sunk to a new low after going 0-4 on their second straight road trip in as many weeks. The Zips fell to Western Michigan (14-24, 8-4) 9-0 and 6-4 on Friday and Northern Illinois (18-19, 8-3) 4-3 and 3-2 on Sunday.
We’ve got a lot of work to do to make it to the MAC tournament now, Softball Head Coach Julie Jones said after the Zips lost their sixth straight conference game on Sunday.
In the initial game of Friday’s doubleheader, Akron’s bats were silenced by Western Michigan pitcher Meredith Whitney. In five innings, Whitney sent down seven Zips and only gave up two hits. She was aided by a Bronco offense that put up nine runs in just four innings to mercy the Zips 9-0.
Akron finally showed some life in the second game of Friday’s twin bill when Olivia Hegedus cracked her team-leading tenth home run of the year over the fence in right center. The solo shot chopped the Broncos’ lead in half, but Akron surrendered four more runs in the next three innings to fall behind 6-1.
The Zips staged a small rally in the top of the sixth inning. Alex Feltes singled to left field and Alissa Birkhimer drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Then Heather Bauer hit a rocket over the left field wall for her third dinger of the year. Feltes and the pinch-running Felicia Houtz walked home in front of Bauer to cut the deficit to 6-4. In the seventh, Sarah Stromack blasted a double to left field, but that was the only runner Akron could manage in their final at-bat of the day.
Heather Bauer pitched 3.1 innings, giving up just one earned run, allowing no walks and striking out just one in relief of starter Andrea Arney.
Saturday’s contest against the Northern Illinois Huskies was pushed back to Sunday due to inclement weather conditions in DeKalb, Illinois. After the skies cleared, a pitching duel transpired. Each team shut out the other through the first three innings, and the score remained 1-1 heading into the sixth.
The Zips’ lone run came in the fourth inning when Katie Gross scored on an error. Gross got aboard on an infield single to start the frame, Birkhimer sacrificed her to second and then Bauer reached base on an error that also allowed Gross to score.
The Zips took a two-run lead in the top half of the sixth inning on another home run by Hegedus. Gross, who went 2-for-4 for the game, also scored on the play after singling to right field. Bauer also singled in the inning, but was called out for leaving too early in an attempt to steal second base. This out proved to be costly, as Hegedus hit a home run a few pitches later.
The Zips quickly let their lead slip away in the bottom of the inning when NIU put up a three-spot. Bauer, who was tagged with the loss, came in for Alex Riedeman in a 3-3 game with runners at the corners.
Bauer struck out the only batter she faced and the catching Stromack threw down a runner attempting to steal second. However, the winning run scored on the play before the tag was made at second, giving NIU a 4-3 lead and eventually the victory.
In the second half of Sunday’s twin bill, offense was again at a premium. Hegedus hit her third homer of the weekend to break the scoreless tie in the fourth, but NIU followed by scoring three unanswered runs. In the Zips’ seventh, Gross singled in the pinch-running Caitlin Ambrose to cut the difference to one. However, Akron left the bases loaded and the Huskies escaped with a 3-2 victory.
We are disappointed in losing two one-run games today, but we did play much better defense, Jones said. Today, their effort was here, but we just didn’t come out on top.
Outside of early bird classics, Akron is 0-8 on the road this season. Akron will attempt to change their fortunes on the road when they play Youngstown State in a doubleheader today at 3 p.m.