READING, Pa. - The Gallaudet University softball team played one of its best games of the season Sunday afternoon but fell just shy of defeating Penn St.-Berks, the defending North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) champions. The Bison held a 5-3 lead in the fifth inning but lost 7-6 in the first game of the NEAC doubleheader. The host Nittany Lions won the second game, 8-0, in five innings at Hintz Athletic Field.
Gallaudet (4-27, 1-13 NEAC) had a chance to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning. Freshman Kristi Luna (Austin, Texas) reached on an error by the third baseman to lead-off the inning. She then scored on a double hit by fellow freshman Alyssa Barlow (Chandler, Ariz.). The game tying run was on second base with no outs. Senior Mia Fernandez (Artesia, N.M.) singled to put runners on first and second base. Junior Emily Forsberg (Riverside, Calif.) struck out and junior Carmel Smolik (Charlotte, N.C.) lined into a double play to end the game.
Barlow had quite the game as she went 2-for-4 at the plate and hit her second collegiate home run in the fourth inning. She drove in three runs and scored once to go with her double. She took the hard luck loss in the circle as she allowed seven runs (three earned) on 11 hits and two walks. GU had five errors in the game and four of them came in pivotal innings. The Bison had two mistakes in the fifth inning when the Nittany Lions (12-10, 11-5 NEAC) scored three times and in the sixth inning two more errors allowed Penn St.-Berks to score four runs on three hits. GU outhit the Nittany Lions, 13-11. Gallaudet had eight of its nine batters record one hit and Fernandez led the team going 4-for-4. Nittany Lion Casey Hafer drove in three runs for the home team as relief pitcher Abby Staskiel (2-3) earned the win.
Gallaudet hung around in the second game and was only down 3-0 going into the fifth inning. The Nittany Lions went to work and scored five runs on six hits and one Bison error allowed Penn St.-Berks to end the game early due to the eight-run mercy rule.
Senior Montana Murphy (Simi Valley, Calif.) took the loss as she allowed eight runs on 10 hits, two walks and one strikeout in four and two-thirds innings pitched. Smolik led the Bison with two singles as GU tallied six hits. Junior Raquel Grindstaff (New Market, Md.) had a double in the loss. Penn St.-Berks center fielder Jenna Heffner went 2-for-3 at the dish, scored two runs and drove in two RBI as both hits went for triples.
The Bison will try and pick-up their first win in the month of April on Tuesday when they welcome Wilson College to the GU Softball Complex. Gallaudet will seek to snap an 11-game losing streak. The Bison will also be participating in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association "StrikeOut Cancer" Day. All fans are encouraged to wear pink to the NEAC doubleheader that starts at 3 p.m.