FINDLAY, Ohio - The SVSU softball team knew it had some work to do on Saturday in order to get into the thick of things and advance deeper into the 2015 GLIAC Tournament. After splitting on the first day, the Cardinals were tasked with fighting all the way through the consolation bracket on Saturday if they wanted a chance to play for the 2015 GLIAC Tournament championship.
Saginaw Valley would do exactly that, using strong pitching and timely offensive production to claim victories over Walsh University (2-1) and Ashland University (4-1) before finishing the day off with an 8-3 victory over the Chargers, who they lost to on Friday.
The Cavaliers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning, scoring a single run on an RBI double.
Saginaw Valley would knot the score at 1-1 with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, however, as Marcy Medina had a two-out RBI infield single that scored Amanda Kimes, who reached on a double and moved to third on a Madison Burgess infield hit.
In the matchup of two of the top pitchers in the league, neither team would score again through the first seven innings of play with the score still tied 1-1.
SVSU had scoring chances in the eighth and ninth innings but was unable to capitalize on the opportunities and the score remained at 1-1 through nine full innings.
After Cardinal starter Sarah Appold shut down another Walsh scoring opportunity in the top of the 10th, it was the Cardinals' chance to respond in the bottom half of the inning. Meredith Rousse had a one out double to left center. After a strikeout and a walk to Kimes, Burgess stepped to the plate with a chance to end the game. She hit a soft liner to shallow center field, a ball that was trapped by the center fielder. Rousse, running on contact, was able to score easily to seal the 2-1 victory.
The first win of the day put the Cards at 30 wins on the season, the first time that has happened for the program since the 2011 season (42).
Appold was great in the opener, working all 10.0 innings while posting 14 strikeouts. She allowed just one run on seven hits. The 14 K's are the most for her since an 8-1 win at Walsh last season. She improved to 12-8 on the season after the victory.
The Cardinals had nine hits in the opener, with Kimes and Meredith Rousse each recording two with a double. Kimes walked three times and both players scored a run.
The second game of the day pitted the Cardinals against the #20 team in the nation, the Ashland Eagles. The teams split the regular season series, and the Eagles were the #2 tourney seed and the Cards the third seed.
The game was scoreless through three full innings of play and the first run would come across on an SVSU RBI single in the top of the fourth by Nicole Romain that scored pinch-runner Samantha Willman to make the score 1-0.
After holding the Eagles scoreless in the bottom of the fourth, SVSU tacked-on three more runs in the top of the fifth to extend the lead out to 4-0. Burgess had an infield single to begin the frame and Shelby Weeks would follow, driving a home run over the right field fence for the first two runs. After singles from Mackenzie Rousse and Evy Lobdell, Medina had a sacrifice fly to right field to bring home Rousse.
Ashland responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth, cutting the deficit to 4-1.
That's all the Eagles would get, as Appold turned in another stellar pitching performance in the circle. She pitched all 7.0 innings, allowing just four hits, one unearned run and striking-out three batters. She improved to 13-8 after the victory.
The Cardinals had eight hits in the second game, with Weeks leading the way going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, including a home run, double and run scored. Medina and Nicole Romain had the other RBIs for SV.
After falling behind early in the final game versus the Chargers after a two-run home run, Saginaw Valley got a run back in the bottom of the first inning to make the score 2-1. Weeks led-off with a double, moved up to third on a Mackenzie Rousse sac bunt, then was driven-in after Lobdell had a sac fly.
Two more runs in the bottom of the second for the Cardinals gave them their first lead of the game at 3-2. Burgess had an RBI single to score Meredith Rousse and Kimes would score later on a wild pitch after a strikeout for the second run of the inning.
Hillsdale knotted the score with a run in the top of the fourth to make it 3-3.
The Cards came back in the bottom of the fourth with another two-spot, this time when Mackenzie Rousse homered to left field to bring home Burgess, who singled earlier. That made the score 5-3.
The bottom of the sixth saw Burgess start things again with a one-out single. Weeks dug-in next, lacing a two-run home run to right field, her second of the day, to make the score 7-3. Medina would later have an RBI groundout that scored Mackenzie Rousse for the game's final run with the score 8-3.
Sarah Vrabel (12-7) got the start in the circle and the victory for the Cardinals. She worked 4.0 innings, allowing three runs. Appold came on in relief in the top of the fifth inning, earning her first save of the season after tossing the final 3.0 innings, registering zero's across the board, with no runs, hits or walks while striking-out four batters.
Saginaw Valley had 13 hits in the final contest of the day, six of those going for extra-bases. Burgess was 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored and Weeks was 2-for-4 with a home run, double, two RBIs and a pair of runs. Mackenzie Rousse was 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. Lobdell was 2-for-3 with an RBI while Meredith Rousse and Medina each added a double.
The Cardinals (32-18) will square-off against Wayne State University (40-17-1)on Sunday (May 3) morning in the championship series. SVSU will have to defeat the Warriors twice to claim the title in the double-elimination format. The teams split their regular season doubleheader, which was played at SVSU's Softball Complex.