Thunder Remain Tied for First with Split at Alma

Thunder Remain Tied for First with Split at Alma

ALMA, Mich.-- After dropping a marathon game-one, the Trine softball team rallied back to take the nightcap and earn a split with Alma in a MIAA doubleheader Wednesday evening.

The Scots came out on the winning end of an 11-inning game one, taking the opener in walk-off fashion by a 4-3 final. Morgan Stratton pitched all 11 innings to earn the victory. The Thunder responded with a 12-hit effort to back a superb pitching effort from Bre Cooper (Beech Grove, Ind. / Beech Grove) to take game two, 7-1.

The results leave Trine and Alma tied for first-place in the MIAA with identical 12-2 conference records. The Thunder own a 25-10 overall record. The Scots are 27-7 on the season.

Game One: Alma 4, Trine 3 (11)

The Thunder tied things up in the seventh to extend the game to extra-innings, but the Scots were able to earn the victory in game one.

Trine struck first early for single runs in the first and second innings. Alison Lang (Rome City, Ind. / East Noble) drew a leadoff walk to set the table for the first run. After a sac bunt, Kendra Marshall (Leesburg, Ind. / Warsaw) singled to score Lang with the game's first run. Lang contributed Trine's second RBI with a two-out double to score a run in the second.

Alma struck for three in the bottom of the third to take a 3-2 lead. Anna Couture got the Scots on the board with an RBI-double. Mary Brooks and McKenzie Creed added back-to-back run-scoring hits with two outs to give Alma the lead.

The game would remain that way until the seventh, when the Thunder rallied to tie the score. A pinch-hit RBI-single by Rachel Zink (Gahanna, Ohio / Gahanna Lincoln) to lead off the inning put Trine in business. A sac bunt and pop out left Trine down to its last out, but Kaitlyn Clark (Mount Juliet, Tenn. / Wilson Central) came through with a clutch hit. The program's all-time leader in RBIs ripped a single to left to score the run and tie the score. 

Pitchers Justine Robles (Long Beach, Calif. / Lakewood) and Stratton traded zeroes through the extra frames, even as the teams began play under international tiebreaker rules in the 10th. Beginning in the 10th, a runner was placed on second base to start each inning under a rule that is used to encourage scoring in extra-innings.

Stratton was able to hold the Thunder scoreless in two innings under the international tiebreak situation before Alma earned the win in the bottom of the 11th. After a sac bunt advanced Sarah Collier to third, Kassidi Adams lifted a fly ball that proved to deep enough to score the winning run on a sacrifice fly.

Stratton pitched the full 11 innings to get the win. She surrendered three earned runs on eight hits, walked three and struck out eight. Robles nearly matched her with 10.2 innings of work. Robles allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits, walked three and struck out one. 

Game Two: Trine 7, Alma 1

The Scots scored first, but the pitching of Cooper and some big hits from the Thunder bats paced Trine's comeback to earn the split.

Cooper was outstanding in the first seven-inning complete game outing of her career. The senior scattered five hits and surrendered one earned run, walking three and tying a career-high with six strikeouts. Cooper has yet to lose a decision in her collegiate career, improving to 9-0 in 32 career appearances. 

After Alma scored on a squeeze play in the top of the third, it was all Trine the rest of the way. An error brought home the first run in the bottom of the third, before Rachell Noble (Indianapolis, Ind. / Decatur Central) ripped a two-run double to make the score 3-1. The Thunder tacked on another unearned run to cap off the four-run third.

Trine added three more in the sixth to seal the victory. Lang provided another big hit in a rally with an RBI-single to bring home the first run. Clark capped the inning with a two-run homer to center to make the score 7-1. The homer was Clark's fifth of the season and the 36th of her career.

Marshall extended her hitting-streak to 11 games in the doubleheader. During that span, she is batting .537 with three home runs and 18 RBIs. Kaylee Fox (Vermilion, Ohio / Edison) extended her hitting-streak to nine games with a three-hit day.

Trine concludes the regular-season Saturday, Apr. 30 at Saint Mary's. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. A sweep would guarantee the Thunder at least a share of a fifth-straight MIAA regular-season championship.