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Big Red splits at Ohio Wesleyan; clinches postseason berth

Rachel Laughlin had 3 hits, 3 RBIs and 3 runs at Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday.
Rachel Laughlin had 3 hits, 3 RBIs and 3 runs at Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday.

The Denison softball team secured a spot in next weekend's 2014 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament with a twinbill split at Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday in Delaware, Ohio. The Big Red shut out the Bishops, 7-0, in game one, but dropped a 2-1 decision in the nightcap.

Next weekend will mark the 14th NCAC Softball Tournament, with Denison clinching its 12th berth out of 14 years. Seeds will be determined at the completion of Sunday's games.

In the opener, Denison senior pitcher Rebecca Dyer had another solid outing inside the circle en route to her 10th victory of 2014.  Dyer scattered two hits, walked one and struck out nine over the course of seven innings.  The senior recorded at least one strikeout in all but one inning, including striking out the side in order in the opening frame. In addition to securing her 10th win, Dyer also recorded her seventh shutout of the season and the 23rd of her career.

Before she even toed the rubber, the Big Red offense supplied Dyer with five runs to work with.  With the bases loaded and no outs, junior Julie Rooney touched the dish on a Dani Haley passed ball. After walk to Gretchen Staubach filled the bags once again, Haley induced back-to-back pop ups to herself.  With two down, senior Rachel Laughlin roped a two-run double that scored freshmen Lindsey Kenyon and Kerry Hager.  Fellow freshman Erin Laswell followed with another double that knocked in Staubach and Laughlin.

Denison added two more insurance runs in the third off the bat of Laughlin.  The senior shortstop ripped her second double that easily scored freshman Ryan Lee.  Laughlin also came around to score on her hit after OWU shortstop Erica Bryan made a two-base throwing error.

Laughlin finished 2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs, while Laswell also drove in a pair. Rooney, Kenyon and Lee each had a hit and scored a run.

Chelsea Denman and Sarah Flint recorded the two hits for OWU. Haley fell to 11-8 on the year after allowing seven runs (six earned) on six hits with three walks and two Ks.

In game two, the Big Red's lone miscue of the day helped the Bishops earn the doubleheader split. Denison took a 1-o lead in the top of the second when Rooney plated Laughlin, who reached with a lead-off single, with a two-out base hit.

Ohio Wesleyan answered with two in the bottom of the frame to take the lead. After Lilly Gresh reached safely on an error to open the half inning, the OWU center fielder came around to score on a base hit by Amanda Boyle. Boyle scored what proved to be the game-winning run on a single to center by Brooke Warner.

Despite taking the loss, Laswell had a solid day inside the circle for DU.  The freshman allowed two unearned runs on six hits in six innings of work.  Laswell's counterpart, Flint, gave up one run on nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Rooney had three hits and an RBI in game two, while senior Meghan Edwards recorded a pair of hits. Warner was a perfect 2-for-2 with an RBI for OWU.

Denison moves to 19-13 overall and 9-5 in the NCAC, while the Bishops finish the regular season with a 22-16 overall record and a 9-7 mark in league play.  The Big Red wraps up the regular season on Sunday when they host a doubleheader with Kenyon at 1 p.m.