By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Green Bay softball team might have had to wait until May 4th, but the squad can now drop the title of being the only Division I softball team in the country without a contest played on its home diamond. The Phoenix took both games in walk-off fashion against Detroit in Saturday’s doubleheader, improving to 14-25 overall and 7-12 in league play while keeping its playoff hopes alive.
In order to qualify for the 2013 Horizon League softball tournament, the Phoenix entered the weekend in need of a sweep over Detroit and a Valparaiso sweep of Youngstown State. It came down to the wire, but in 14 innings Valpo pulled out the victory over Youngstown State to keep Green Bay in contention for the sixth and final tournament spot.
“We took care of business today and tried not to think about the help we needed from Valparaiso in order to keep our playoff hopes alive,” head coach Jean Rivett said. “It was great to finally play at home too—the girls were a little tense at first, but as the games went on they loosened up and gave a great home crowd a great show.”
Game 1: Green Bay 5, Detroit 4 (Eight Innings)
With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning, a sacrifice fly from junior Miranda Reinke (Milwaukee, Wis.) ended a three-hour contest in favor of the Phoenix.
Green Bay struck first in the bottom of the second when junior Gabrielle Cassady (Janesville, Wis.) hit a double to left field. The Titans wasted no time replying, however, as they answered with three runs for a 3-1 advantage in the top of the third.
Detroit’s Sarah Cupp, who finished 3-for-3 in the contest, hit an RBI single up the middle in the top of the fourth to give the visiting team a 4-1 lead.
Green Bay fought back in the bottom half of the fourth, starting with an RBI groundout from freshman Kelli Hutchinson (Milwaukee, Wis.) that scored sophomore Hailey Mohrfeld (Menomonee Falls, Wis.). Senior Dani Peerenboom (Appleton, Wis.) followed her with an RBI single to right field to bring the Phoenix within one at 4-3.
With the score still standing at 4-3, Green Bay headed to the bottom of the seventh inning in desperate need of a run. Senior Jess Hrncar (Bristol, Wis.) led off with a single to right field and scored on the next play—an RBI double from freshman Marissa Michalkiewicz (Appleton, Wis.).
With the score tied at 4-4 and nobody out, Michalkiewicz advanced to third after a successful bunt from Reinke. Junior Stacey Butts (Greenfield, Wis.) was intentionally walked, loading the bases with nobody out. The Titans picked up the first out of the inning on the next play, and followed it with the second out when Michalkiewicz was forced out at home. An ensuing pop fly to the pitcher sent the 4-4 contest to extra innings.
Despite a lead-off single, Green Bay held the Titans scoreless in the top of the eighth. With one out and the bases loaded, Reinke hit a shot deep enough to right field to allow Peerenboom to tag up and cross home plate for the 5-4 win.
Michalkiewicz went 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI, while Hrncar and Peerenboom each added two hits and scored a run. Hutchinson went 1-for-3 with an RBI and Reinke and Cassady each added 1-for-4 performances with an RBI.
Sophomore Lauren Danner (Kaukauna, Wis.) picked up the win (2-4) while pitching four scoreless innings with three hits, two walks and two strikeouts. Senior Allison Goecks (Beloit, Wis.) also chipped in four innings of work with seven hits, four runs (three earned), two walks and five strikeouts.
Detroit’s Kat Hoffman (2-17) picked up the loss while allowing eight hits in 3 2/3 innings of work.
Game 2: Green Bay 3, Detroit 2
Similar to the day’s first contest, Green Bay found itself in need of a run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning. This time, however, the Phoenix avoided extra innings when Hutchinson delivered the win in the unusual form of a walk-off hit batter.
Freshman Briana Cavin (Elk Grove Village, Ill.) had an impressive day on the mound while keeping the Titans off the scoreboard until the sixth inning. The Phoenix struck first in the bottom of the fourth inning on a solo blast from Michalkiewicz. The soaring longball was her sixth homer of the year, which puts her in third place on the program’s single-season home run record list.
With Green Bay still leading 1-0, Peerenboom hit a triple down the left field line with one out in the bottom of the fifth. She tried to score on the next play, but ultimately couldn’t avoid the tag at the plate for the second out of the inning.
Detroit made things interested in the top of the sixth as the Titans put runners on second and third with nobody out and followed with a two-RBI double to take a 2-1 lead.
Green Bay replied in the home half of the inning as freshman Ashley Baker (Green Bay, Wis.) singled to right center to plate Hutchinson and tie the game at 2-2.
The Phoenix held Detroit scoreless in the top of the final frame, setting the home team up for a second walk-off win. Peerenboom started things off with a single to right center before Hrncar gave Green Bay runners on first and second as she bunted and reached on an error. With nobody out, the Titans intentionally walked Michalkiewicz to load the bags.
The next play, an infield fly, gave Detroit the first out of the inning, but on the ensuing play Detroit pitcher Kat Hoffman drilled Hutchinson in the side of the leg to give Green Bay a 3-2 win via walk-off walk.
Cavin (5-7) pitched a complete game with six hits, two earned runs, two walks and six strikeouts. Hoffman (2-18) received the loss after 1 1/3 innings of work with two hits, an earned run and a costly walk.
Peerenboom led the way with a 2-for-4 day at the plate and a run scored. Michalkiewicz finished 1-for-2 with a run scored, an RBI and two walks, while Hutchinson was 1-for-1 with an RBI, a run scored and two walks. Hrncar, Baker, and sophomore Tia Collins (Orfordville, Wis.) each chipped in a run.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: Green Bay will close the series against Detroit tomorrow at noon as part of Senior Day. Green Bay’s six seniors will be recognized prior to the start of the key game. With a win and a Youngstown State loss, the Phoenix will clinch the sixth and final spot in the 2013 Horizon League Tournament. With a loss or a Youngstown State win Green Bay’s season will come to a close tomorrow afternoon.
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