LEBANON, Ill. (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Softball dropped a pair of one-run Great Lakes Valley Conference decisions to host McKendree University Saturday afternoon. The Screaming Eagles lost the opener, 5-4, before falling in game-two, 5-4, in eight innings.
USI (5-14, 3-9 GLVC) rallied from early deficits to take the lead in both contests but was unable to hold onto its advantages as McKendree scored late in each game to extend its winning streak to nine games.
Sophomore second baseman Rachel Martinez (Chicago, Illinois) paced the Eagles at the plate, going a combined 4-of-7 (.571) with a double, home run, two runs scored and two RBI. Freshman centerfielder Mackenzie Bedrick (Brownsburg, Indiana) went 2-of-4 with a sacrifice, RBI, two runs scored and four stolen bases.
Senior outfielder Alicia Webb (Elberfeld, Indiana) extended her hitting streak to 22 games with a pair of hits in the opener, but her career-best streak fell five games shy of the program record—27 by Amber Huse in 1994—as she went 0-for-4 in the nightcap. Bedrick also had a streak of 15 straight stolen bases without being caught come to a close when she was thrown out trying to steal second for the first time this year in the fifth inning of game two.
After spotting the Bearcats a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, the Eagles rallied to take a 4-3 advantage with four runs in the top of the fourth inning. McKendree, however, answered with a two-run sixth-inning to retake the lead in its 5-4 game-one victory.
Martinez’s double in the fifth pushed across the first run of the game for USI, while freshman first baseman/catcher Lexi Fair (Greenwood, Indiana) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to push across the second run. Junior pitcher Katie Back (Indianpolis, Indiana) hit a two-run single in the next at-bat to give USI the 4-3 advantage.
After a rough start to the game, sophomore pitcher Allie Goodin (Evansville, Indiana) settled down to retire 11 consecutive batters until a lead-off walk in the bottom of the sixth inning broke the streak and knocked her out of the circle.
Back, who had two outstanding efforts in her last two appearances, came on to get the first out, but a hit batter followed by a walk loaded the bases with one out for the Bearcats in the sixth.
McKendree (12-6, 11-3 GLVC) looked like it might not be able to take advantage of the situation as Back induced a fielder’s choice ground ball to get the lead runner out via the force play at home for the second out of the inning. However, for the second time in a week, a two-out pinch-hitter rescued USI’s opponent as Sidney Larsen hit a two-out single to right field to push the game-tying and go-ahead runs across the plate—USI faced a similar situation in its 10-7 loss to Truman State University last Sunday when the Eagles had the Bulldogs down to their last out and a pinch-hitter came in to drive in the game-tying runs in a 10-7 USI loss.
Goodin had a two-out single in the seventh, but USI, which left nine runners on base, could not push across the tying run.
Back (3-5) took the loss for the Eagles after giving up one run off one hit in one inning of work.
McKendree scored runs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings to hand the Eagles their fourth straight loss and third straight one-run setback.
USI struck first when Bedrick drew a bases loaded walk in the top of the second inning to put the Eagles on the scoreboard. McKendree, however, answered with three straight two-out hits to score a pair of runs and take a 2-1 advantage.
Senior pitcher/outfielder Miranda Gajewski hit a solo home run to lead off the home half of the third inning to extend McKendree’s advantage to 3-1.
USI, however, rallied as a two-out, solo home run by Martinez in the top of the sixth inning cut McKendree’s lead in half.
Junior third baseman Mary Bean (Schaumburg, Illinois) hit a one-out double to get things going in the seventh for the Eagles. Bedrick advanced Bean with a sacrifice bunt and reached base on a fielding error; then stole second to put runners and second and third with one out.
Sophomore shortstop Jordan Rager (Fishers, Indiana) followed with a two-run double to put the Eagles up, 4-3.
McKendree, however, got a lead-off single, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI-single by Gajewski to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh and send the contest to extra innings. The Eagles got a lead-off single in the top of the eighth, but after a sacrifice bunt advanced the runner to second base, a strikeout and a ground-out got the Bearcats out of the inning unscathed.
The Bearcats used another lead-off single in the home half of the eighth and, after another sacrifice bunt, a pinch-hit RBI-single by Emily King sent the Eagles home with the 5-4 loss.
Junior pitcher Elissa Brown (Brownsburg, Indiana) was tagged with the loss. Brown (0-1) gave up two runs off five hits in 3.2 innings of work.
USI visits William Jewell College for a GLVC doubleheader next Saturday in Liberty, Missouri. The Eagles finish their six-game road trip the following day with a conference twin-bill against Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. First pitch for both doubleheaders are scheduled for noon start times.
USI has suffered six one-run losses this season, including four in GLVC play…the Eagles are now 0-9 on the year when playing on the road.