In two of the closest games you will ever see played at the college level, Denison battled No. 12 DePauw to a doubleheader split on Sunday afternoon in Granville. The Big Red took game one, 1-0 and fell in game two, 4-3 in 10 innings.
The opener saw Denison's Becca Dyer take the circle for the second time this season and the sophomore, fresh off a perfect game on Wednesday, went the distance, allowing just six hits in seven innings.
With the game scoreless heading into the bottom of the seventh, it had been a while since the Big Red offense threatened DePauw starter Emily Dieckmann. To start the seventh, Dieckmann hit Jess Robertson and Heather Larsen, putting two runners on base with no outs. Emily Lipsitz followed with a line drive through the left side but Denison coach Tiffany Ozbun smartly held up Robertson at third base as DePauw's Rachel MacBeth fielded the ball in shallow left field.
With the bases loaded, that set the stage for Dyer who sent the first pitch up the middle, scoring Robertson with the game-winning hit. The win marked the fourth-straight for Denison and improved its record to 16-11 while DePauw fell to 19-8.
In game two, runs were once again at a premium and entering the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tigers held a 2-0 lead over DU. That's when Hannah Price started things off with a base hit to center. Julie Rooney, who made play after play at third base all afternoon, followed with a bunt and DePauw's pitcher and third baseman charged but neither made the play, allowing Rooney and Price to advance. Rachel Laughlin would single, moving each runner up one station and with the bases loaded and no one out, Meghan Edwards came just shy of a grand slam as her blast to left field banged off the top of the wall. The shot scored two runs but left Laughlin at second base and Edwards at first with a long single.
The hit by Edwards knocked DePauw starter Emily Bichler out the game and opened the door for Kahla Nolan who quickly retired the next two hitters.
DePauw's Amy Hallett was a thorn in the Big Red's side all afternoon as she went 6-for-7 in the two games. She started off the eighth inning with a solo home run to left field off DU starter Kelsey Hager. Holly Paris would walk and after a sacrifice bunt by Jen Kosinski, Paris moved to second. Buchanan followed with a single to right but Heather Larsen fielded the ball, hit her cut-off at shortstop and Laughlin would fire a strike to Edwards at the plate who applied a tag on Paris for the second out. The third out of the inning would come when Dieckman lined out to Robertson at first base.
Trailing 3-2 in the eighth, Denison would battle back once again as Edwards supplied a two-out single up the middle. Robertson followed with a single to center and Larsen's base hit to the gap in left center would score Edwards and keep DU alive and force a ninth inning.
Dyer would relieve Hager in the ninth and proceeded to retire the Tigers in order. Nolan would do the same to Denison in the bottom of the ninth and the 10th inning would begin the international tiebreaker rule.
With DePauw's Cymone Allen starting the inning at second base, Hallett would sacrifice Allen to third base. Two batters later, Kosinski's base hit through the left side of the infield would score Allen, giving DePauw its third lead of the contest.
The home half of the 10th inning would start with Price being placed on second base and a successful sacrifice by Rooney had Price just 60 feet from tying the game. Nolan had other plans as she forced Laughlin and Edwards into outs to end the contest.
Denison's Hager pitched a workmanlike eight innings, allowing three earned runs and scattering 12 hits while striking out three. Dyer was the hard-luck loser as she allowed just one hit and no earned runs in her two innings of relief.
The victory went to Nolan who improves to 6-1 on the year. Dyer's record dips to 2-1.
Denison was led offensively in game two by Edwards, Price and Rooney who finished with two hits apiece. Hallett did most of the damage for DePauw, going 4-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI.
The defense by both teams was spectacular and in 17 innings of softball, neither team committed an error.
The loss dropped Denison's record to 16-12 while DePauw improved to 20-8. Denison is 3-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference and DePauw is 4-4. DU returns to action on Tuesday (April 17) when they travel to The College of Wooster for a 3:30 p.m. start.