HOLLAND, Mich. -- The Trine softball team split a pair of games on the opening day of the MIAA Softball Tournament Thursday at Wolters Stadium.
The Thunder took game one over No. 1 seed Hope 5-3, with Makenna Hartline's (Niles, Mich. / Brandywine) solo homer providing the go-ahead homer in the top of the seventh. Alma denied Trine the chance to advance directly to tomorrow's championship round as the Scots dealt the Thunder a 5-2 defeat in the nightcap. Trine will face Saint Mary's in an elimination game tomorrow at noon. The Belles dropped their opener to Alma before dealing Hope the loss to stay alive.
Game One: Trine 5, Hope 3
A two-run seventh was the difference as the Thunder prevailed in a back-and-forth battle to open the tournament.
Trine wasted no time getting on the board. Makenna Hartline drew a lead-off walk to get things started in the top of the first. With two outs, Kaylee Fox (Vermilion, Ohio / Edison) launched a towering home run to left to put the Thunder up 2-0 early. Fox's homer was her 15th of the season, moving her into sole possession of fourth in Trine's season record book. The home run snapped a scoreless streak of more than 32 innings by Hope pitcher Sydney Jones.
The Flying Dutch rallied to tie with single runs in the third and fourth innings. An Amanda Diaz RBI single cut the score to 2-1 in the third. Diaz was later erased on the bases as the Thunder executed a run-down to perfection between home and third. Hayley Reitsma homered to left to the score in the fourth.
Heads-up base running by Michaela Hartline (Niles, Mich. / Brandywine) gave the Thunder the lead right back in the fifth. With two outs, Hartline raced around from second to score on an error in the infield to put Trine up 3-2.
Emily White (Fortville, Ind. / Mount Vernon) threw out a runner at the plate for the first out of the bottom of the sixth to keep the score there. That play turned out to be a big factor in the inning as Hope later tied the score on a bases-loaded, infield RBI-single by Katie Singer.
Makenna Hartline led off the top of the seventh with a no-doubt solo homer to left field to give the Thunder the lead right back. Hartline's homer was her 11th of the season. Trine later tacked on a run when a miscommunication on a pop-up allowed pinch-runner Erica Robles (Long Beach, Calif. / Lakewood) to score on Carly Bachna's (Elyria, Ohio / Elyria) RBI hit.
Danielle Ray (Hamilton, Ohio / Badin) closed out the win with the complete game effort. The freshman picked up her first career postseason victory, allowing eight hits and three earned runs in her outing. Ray struck out four to improve to 15-3.
MIAA Most Valuable Pitcher Sydney Jones was tagged with the loss for Hope. Jones allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits, walked four and struck out nine in seven innings of work.
In addition to White's throw to cut down a runner at the plate, the Thunder got a pair of tremendous diving plays by Fox to make catches in foul ground.
Game Two: Alma 5, Trine 2
The pitching of Morgan Stratton and two run-scoring hits from McKenzie Creed helped the Scots advance to the championship round.
The Scots scored first in the top of the second when an illegal pitch allowed Danielle Service to cross the plate. Alma added two more in the third. A Mary Brooks RBI-double gave the Scots a two-run lead. McKenzie Creed followed with a RBI-single to push the lead to 3-0. Creed later added a second RBI-single to make the score 4-0 in the fifth.
Catherine Porter (Canton, Mich. / Plymouth Canton) led off the fifth with Trine's first hit off Stratton, a double to the left-center gap. Two batters later, McCue launched her second homer of the season to get the Thunder on the board. The two-run shot cut the score to 4-2.
Alma plated an insurance run in the seventh when Brooks scored on an error.
Stratton went the distance to earn the victory for Alma. She allowed two earned runs on three hits, did not walk a batter and struck out nine. Creed had two hits and two RBIs to lead the offensive effort.
Trine will need to win three times to earn the MIAA Tournament title tomorrow. A win over Saint Mary's in game one would advance the Thunder to the championship round, where the team would need to beat Alma twice to claim the tournament crown.