Thunder Sweep Through Opening Day of NFCA Classic

Thunder Sweep Through Opening Day of NFCA Classic

COLUMBUS, Ga.--The Trine softball team earned a pair of victories on the opening day of the NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic Thursday at the South Commons Complex.

The Thunder prevailed 10-7 over Eastern Connecticut State in a back-and-forth game one. Rachel Zink's (Gahanna, Ohio/Gahanna Lincoln) three-run triple in the bottom of the fifth provided the go-ahead run. Justine Robles (Long Beach, Calif./Lakewood) fired a complete game to lead Trine to a 6-1 victory over No. 7 East Texas Baptist in game two. Kaylee Fox (Vermilion, Ohio/Edison) knocked in four runs on the day to pace the offense. Both Thunder victories came over opponents who participated in the NCAA postseason last year. Trine improved to 6-4 on the season.

Game One: Trine 10, Eastern Connecticut State 7

Zink's go-ahead triple in the fifth put the Thunder back ahead after ECSU had rallied back from a five-run deficit to take the lead.

A six-run top half of the fifth erased an early five-run Trine advantage. The Warriors were able to capitalize on a couple Thunder errors in the inning to score three unearned runs in the inning. Jessica Seymour's RBI-single gave ECSU the lead at 6-5 to cap off the inning.

Trine responded by loading the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Zink, who had totaled one hit in two career at-bats prior to today's game, then laced a line-drive deep into the right field corner. The sophomore cleared the bases and raced into third with her first-career triple to give the Thunder an 8-6 lead.

A Samantha Bardos leadoff homer cut the score to 8-7 in the top of the sixth, but Robles entered to record the final five outs in order to notch her first save of the season. She struck out three. Kate Saupe (Farwell, Mich./Farwell) picked up her first collegiate victory in relief.

Alison Lang (Rome City, Ind./East Noble) added an RBI-single and the Thunder added a run on a double-steal for the final margin.

Trine built its five-run lead over the first two innings. A four-run first, highlighted by a two-run double by Fox and an RBI-single by Lainey McCue (Westlake, Ohio/Westlake) got things started.

Game Two: Trine 6, ETBU 1

The Thunder bats pounded out 13 hits and Robles shut down the ETBU offense to earn the victory.

The Tigers struck first on an RBI-double by Kaitlyn Hollingshead in the bottom of the first. That was the only hit Robles would allow until the fifth.

Robles allowed just two hits in her complete-game effort. The senior walked four and struck out eight to improve to 3-1 on the season. Robles' performance kept a lineup in check that is batting .319 on the year.

Four-straight two out hits in the third got the Thunder on the board. Erica Robles (Long Beach, Calif./Lakewood) started things off with a double, with Clark following with an RBI-single through the middle to tie the score. An infield hit by Kendra Marshall (Leesburg, Ind./Warsaw) kept the line moving, before an RBI-single by Fox made the score 2-1.

RBI-singles by Dani Kirchner (North Vernon, Ind./Jennings County) and Fox in the next two innings pushed the score to 4-1.

Clark provided the final insurance as she launched a towering, no-doubt two-run homer to left to score Robles and make the score 6-1 in the seventh. The homer was the first of the season for the senior, and the 32nd of her career.

Trine can wrap up a spot in the Gold bracket of the NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic with a victory over Ithaca tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The Thunder will play another game at a time yet to be determined, which is subject to bracket seeding.