The Big Red softball team closed out the 2014 regular season with a doubleheader split with North Coast Athletic Conference rival Kenyon on Sunday in Granville. Denison grinded out a 4-3 win in nine-innings in the opener, but dropped a 7-1 decision in the second contest.
DU moved to 10-6 in league play and secured the third seed in next weekend's NCAC Tournament following a split and a Wittenberg sweep at Hiram. DePauw will host the 2014 NCAC Tournament on May 2-3 in Greencastle, Ind.
The Big Red jumped out to a 1-0 lead in their first trip to the plat. With two on and two outs, senior Meghan Edwards dropped a single into left that scored Lindsey Kenyon from second base. Denison added an insurance run in the third when a base hit to right center by Rachel Laughlin drove in Edwards.
Each team scored a run in the fourth to push the score to 3-1 in favor of the home team. Down to their final out of the game, Kenyon pitcher Maddy Stark drew a walk to bring the game-tying run to the plate. With the first pitch of her at-bat, Jane Ghublikian tied the game with a home run to left field. Denison had the game-winning run at third with two outs, but a strikeout by Stark sent the game into extra innings.
In the top of the ninth, the Ladies had two runners in scoring position. However, Big Red senior pitcher Rebecca Dyer got Lindsey Susolik to fly out to Kerry Hager for the final out of the inning. In the bottom of the frame, Hager dropped a one-out single into shallow right field. Senior Gretchen Staubach followed with a base hit through the left side. Edwards moved Hager 60 feet with a deep fly out to right field. With runners at the corners and two outs, freshman Ryan Lee stepped to the dish. After squandering a similar situation in the seventh, this time Lee roped a walk-off single into center that easily scored Hager.
Denison had five players record multiple hits, led by Edwards and Lee who each had three hits and an RBI. Rooney and Hager each had two singles and a run, while Staubach had two hits, a run and an RBI. In addition to the offensively production, the Big Red also received another solid performance from Dyer. Over the course of nine innings, the senior allowed three runs on seven hits en route to her 11th win of the season. Dyer also set a new career-mark with 14 strikeouts. She recorded at least one strikeout in all but one inning, including fanning the side in the fourth.
In the nightcap, Kenyon erased a 1-0 DU lead with five runs on six hits in the second. The Ladies added two more runs in the sixth on RBI doubles by Susolik and Chelsea Delaney. Rooney, Emily Lipsitz, Laughlin and Ellen McDevitt-Stredney accounted for the four Denison hits in game two. Senior Kelsey Hager (3-4) suffered the loss after surrendering five runs on seven hits in 1.2 innings of work. Freshman Lindsay Divack finished the final 5.1 frames, allowing two runs on six hits.
In addition to her 1-for-2 performance at the plate, Rooney also had six putouts and four assists at the hot corner. The junior infielder helped turn two double plays and snagged three liners. In the first, Rooney caught a line drive hit by Susolik and quickly tagged Stark, who was leaning too far off third base. In the seventh, the junior picked up a ground ball by Liz Paterra, touched third base to retire Toni Miller and fired a strike to Staubach at first to complete the double play.
Denison (20-14) will open the 2014 NCAC Tournament on Friday against second-seeded Wittenberg. First pitch from Greencastle is scheduled for 10 a.m. The winner of that game will play at 2 p.m., while the loser will play in the first elimination game at 4 p.m.