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Foresters split first four games at Tucson Invitational

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Huntington University softball team has been busy in Tucson, Arizona, this week participating in the Tucson Invitational Games.

Through the Foresters’ first four games in Arizona, the green and white won two games and lost two, pushing their season record to 2–4 overall.

Huntington opened up their Tucson Invitational Games schedule with a doubleheader on Monday against No. 21 Midland.

In game one, the Warriors jumped on the Foresters out of the gate, gaining a 2–0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Midland tacked on two more insurance runs in the top of the fifth inning to double their lead at 4–0, which proved to be the final score as neither team could cross home plate the rest of the way.

Freshman catcher Kiera Stacy swatted Huntington’s only base hit of the game, as the Forester offense struggled to generate chances.

Sophomore pitcher Meghan Fretz went the distance for Huntington, giving up five hits and two earned runs while striking out seven Midland batters.

Game two featured a much tighter battle, as only one run was scored in the first three innings.

Like game one, Midland got on the board early, grabbing a 1–0 lead in the first inning.

The Warriors doubled their lead in the fourth inning at 2–0, but the Foresters finally broke through in the top of the sixth inning.

After junior shortstop Joelle Beals and sophomore first baseman Paige Eichelberger recorded singles earlier in the inning, Stacy brought in both with a double to tie the score at 2–2.

However, the Warriors got the last laugh, walking it off in the bottom of the seventh inning to come away with a 3–2 win to finish the doubleheader sweep.

Sophomore pitcher Mallory West pitched all six and two-third innings for the Foresters and gave up five hits and no earned runs while striking out a pair of Warriors.

Tuesday brought different fortunes for Huntington, as the Foresters battled against Hamline and Edgewood, both NCAA Division III schools.

This time, it would be Huntington jumping on the opposition out of the gate, as the Foresters tallied four hits and two runs in the first inning against Hamline to grab a 2–0 lead thanks to a sacrifice fly by Beals and an RBI single by sophomore third baseman Sophia Beachy.

The offense dried up over the course of the next handful of innings, as no more runs were scored until the sixth inning, when the Pipers evened the score at 2–2 with a pair of runs.

However, Huntington answered in the top of the seventh inning thanks to RBIs by junior outfielder Karley Blankenship and Eichelberger to regain a two-run lead at 4–2.

Hamline could not generate any runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, resulting in the Foresters snagging their first victory of the season.

Fretz again went the distance for the win in the contest, tossing seven innings while giving up four hits and two runs in addition to fanning a trio of Pipers.

Huntington continued to roll in their second game of the day, this time against Edgewood.

The Foresters stormed out of the gates to grab a 3–0 advantage after the top half of the first inning thanks to RBIs from Eichelberger, sophomore third baseman Kennedy Krull and Blankenship.

The Eagles responded with one run in the bottom half of the first inning and added another run in the second to bring the score to 3–2 in favor of Huntington.

However, with two runs in the third inning and three more in the fifth inning, the Foresters took a commanding 8–2 lead.

Edgewood responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth to keep things interesting, but Huntington pulled away late, outscoring the Eagles 3–1 the rest of the way to come away with an 11–5 win.

Blankenship led the offensive charge for the Foresters with four RBIs in the win, while West and freshman first baseman Anna Weigold each brought in two runs in addition to Beals, Eichelberger and Krull’s first-inning RBIs.

West continued the complete-game trend on the mound for Huntington, tossing all seven innings. West gave up 11 hits and four earned runs while striking out four Eagles throughout the battle.

The Foresters played their final four games of the Tucson Invitational Games against Central, MacMurray, Wisconsin-Platteville and Augsburg on March 20 and 21, but full results were not available as of The Herald-Press’s deadline.

Huntington will be back in action on Midwest soil on Saturday when they host Spring Arbor for a Crossroads League doubleheader. First pitch for game one is set for 1 p.m.