Trojans notch crucial victory

MOUNT UNION – After an unusual two-game losing slump from an otherwise dominant Mount Union softball team, Tuesday’s rain-soaked conditions didn’t appear to deliver the ideal scenario for a comeback.

But the Mount Union batters proved otherwise.

Working off nine hits, Mount Union put up 10 runs to West Branch’s seven, which not only put the Trojans back on track with an Inter-County Conference win, but gave them what is at the very least a three-way tie for the conference title.

Barring a league loss this week by either Claysburg-Kimmel or Bellwood-Antis – a scenario which coach Matt Fiscus thought was unlikely to happen – the three teams tied for the top of the conference with their 12-3 records.

“We have at least a tie, and the other ones I’m sure have done it as well,” Fiscus said.

Mount Union’s big inning was in the bottom of the fourth, when the Trojans plated five runs for the 10-2 lead.

The inning started with a Katie Smith double up the third base line. Smith then advanced to third on a line drive shot from Marissa Dimoff which careened off West Branch starting pitcher Morgan Rackish’s leg.

Rackish was injured by the shot and switched positions with first baseman Rachel Myers, but the change made no difference to Mount Union as Kaitlyn Querry forced one Mount Union run on a West Branch error, Kristin Miles brought in two with her double to right field – overall Miles went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs – then RBIs from Ashlyn Drake and Marissa Aurand brought in the rest of Mount Union’s five runs.

After taking the commanding 10-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, Mount Union let West Branch work its way back with two runs in the fifth off a Mount Union error and a Taylor Hall RBI and three in the seventh to finish the game at a too close for comfort 10-7.

To start off the seventh, West Branch’s Melesha Ahlberg led off with a single, teammate Maddie McCraken reached on a Mount Union error, then RBI singles from Hall and Missy Croyle plus an RBI fielder’s choice from Rachel Myers had West Branch threatening Mount Union’s lead.

However, pitcher Aurand already had one out on a 5-3 play before gaining her second on Myers’ 4-6 fielder’s choice at second base. So from there, Aurand forced Stasia Laterzol to ground out to senior second baseman Ashlyn Drake, who made the throw to first for the final out of the game.

In the end, it was fitting that Drake got to be part of the last out of the game, as Tuesday marked the last time she and fellow senior Marissa Dimoff would play on their home field.

In the game, Dimoff went 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the second and a single in the fourth. Drake went 2-for-4 with RBI singles in the second and fourth and an outstanding play at second base when she snagged a hard line drive over her right shoulder for the first out of the inning.

“I was happy for the seniors to win on senior night. I feel like we kind of righted the ship some,” Fiscus said.

Outside of Mount Union’s five-run fourth inning, other runs were scored in the first when the Trojans took advantage of a West Branch error and Brittany Brumbaugh hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to bring Gabby Morder, courtesy runner to starting pitcher Liza Feagley, home from third.

In the second, Mount Union scored three runs on RBIs from Dimoff, Miles and Drake.

“We hit much better tonight than what we have been the last couple nights,” Fiscus said, whose team had nine hits total.

On the defensive end, although some of them may have been especially difficult to avoid because of the wet conditions, Mount Union committed five errors, two of which allowed West Branch runners on base who later scored.

Outside of the seventh inning, West Branch scored once in the first on a suicide squeeze, once in the second off a RBI double from McCraken and twice in the fifth off a wild pitch from starting pitcher Liza Feagley and an RBI double from Hall.

Feagley pitched into the fifth, allowing three earned runs and seven hits. Aurand finished the game for Feagley, allowing three earned runs and three hits.

“It was just good to get back on track,” Fiscus said. “A win solves a lot of problems in life; it gets everybody back on the same page. We have Southern (Huntingdon) coming up, so we need to have a good day of practice tomorrow because that’s a rivalry game and we need to look sharp for it.”

This game with Southern Huntingdon will take place on Thursday, as the Trojans (14-4, 12-3) look to add another win to their record before the District 6 Class AA tournament begins.