Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Elms College softball team split a pair of games at the 2016 Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic at North Collier Park Monday afternoon. The Blazers defeated Northland, 7-6, and then fell to Wisconsin Lutheran, 2-0, in non-conference action. Elms improves to 3-3 overall, while Northland moves to 1-5 and Wisconsin Lutheran sits at 5-1 on the season.
Game 1: Elms 7, Northland 6
The Blazers struck first, grabbing a 1-0 lead as sophomore Elizabeth Olszewski (Canterbury, Conn.) laced a triple to score freshman Madison Messier (Warren, Mass.) from first. In the top of the third, Elms padded their advantage with two outs behind an RBI double from Olszewski, followed by an RBI single by freshman Tea Sullivan (Dracut, Mass.), her first collegiate RBI, to hand the Blazers a 3-0 lead.
The Lumberjills battled back in the bottom of the frame. After Elms freshman Raeanna Tumel (Stafford, Conn.) struck out the first two batters, but then gave up back-to-back RBI doubles to senior Kaitlyn Witthun (Cambria, Wis.) and junior Crystal Diaz (Burbank, Calif.) to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Northland grabbed control in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, the Lumberjills plated two runs on consecutive fielding miscues by the Blazers, followed by an RBI single from freshman Zhayla Reyes (Melbourne, Fla.) to put Northland ahead 5-4. Elms evened the score at 5-5 in the fifth behind an RBI groundout from Olszewski.
The Blazers regained the lead in the sixth as Kierstan Skinner rocked an RBI double, followed by an RBI groundout from freshman Keyla Oliveras (Springfield, Mass.) to build a 7-5 lead for Elms. Northland chipped into the lead with an RBI single from Reyes in the sixth, but Elms held the Lumberjills off the board in the seventh to secure the 7-6 victory.
Tumel (2-0) claimed the win, surrendering five runs, two earned, on six hits and matched a career-high with seven strikeouts. Olszewski powered the Blazers offense with three hits and three RBIs, while Sullivan and Oliveras notched RBIs.
Northland freshman Megan Mader (0-2; Park Walls, Wis.) was handed the loss, giving up seven runs, five earned, on eight hits with six strikeouts. Witthun knocked a team-high three hits with two RBIs, while Diaz and senior Katie Groeschel (Green Bay, Wis.) added two hits each.
Game 2: Wisconsin Lutheran 2, Elms 0
After holding the Blazers off the scoreboard in the top of the first, Wisconsin Lutheran grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame as junior Kailyn Robinson (Andalusia, Ill.) drew a leadoff walk, stole second base, and then scored on an RBI single from sophomore Taylor Bjork (Horicon, Wis.) to stake the Warriors to a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Wisconsin Lutheran loaded the bases with one out. Warrior freshman Rebecca Yniguez (Wildomar, Calif.) made it a 2-0 game with an RBI single through the right side of the infield. The Blazers stranded Wisconsin Lutheran with the bases loaded after forcing two outs at home plate.
The Blazers put runners in scoring position in the fifth inning as Oliveras reached on a bunt single, stole second but was stranded at third base.
Bjork earned the win for Wisconsin Lutheran, scattering four hits in 4.2 innings of work with three strikeouts, while freshman Abby Mahsem (South Milwaukee, Wis.) collected her first save of the season, allowing one hit with five strikeouts in two-plus innings pitched. Elms junior Tessa Cote (1-3; Granby, Mass.) took the loss in a complete game effort, allowing two runs on eight hits with two strikeouts.
The Blazers will be back on the diamond with a pair of games Tuesday at the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, facing Geneva College at 9:00 a.m. and Pittsburgh-Bradford at 11:00 a.m.