March 18, 2011

Zips Go 1-1 on Final Day at Rebel Spring Games

KISSIMMEE, Fla

. - Wrapping up four days of play at the Rebel Spring Games, The University of Akron softball team (12-8) went 1-1, defeating Houston Baptist for the second time in the tournament 6-3 and falling in eight innings to Butler in a pitcher's duel, 2-1.

In the morning contest against Houston Baptist, the Zips took a commanding 5-0 lead in the second inning. Heather Bauer singled and was brought home by a Sarah Earley base hit to right center for the first run of the game. Sarah Stromack added another RBI single that scored Earley, and Alex Helfrich followed her up by reaching on a bunt that plated Stromack. Finally, Alex Feltes drilled a home run over the left center field fence to tack on two more runs.

Akron tallied another run in the fourth after Earley hit a bending double down the first base line and Helfrich brought her home for her second RBI of the game. The Huskies did not go quietly, though, as they scored three runs in the top of the sixth by knocking three hits and capitalizing on two UA errors to make it 6-3. After shutting down Akron in the sixth, the HBU comeback in the seventh fell short after managing a leadoff single, as the next three batters were retired to end the game.

The Zips totaled eight hits to HBU's seven and left only one runner on base, while the Huskies stranded seven. At the plate, Helfrich finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a pair of stolen bases, Earley went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, and Feltes was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

Alex Riedeman earned the win for UA, improving to 4-2 on the season after going 5.1 innings and allowing just two earned runs. Alissa Birkhimer got the save, her second, by pitching 1.2 scoreless innings to preserve the victory.

Against Butler, the game was dominated by both pitchers as the teams combined for just five hits. The contest was scoreless until the sixth inning, when Butler managed two singles to take a 1-0 lead. The Zips needed to score in order to extend the game in the top of the seventh, and Stromack came through, hitting an RBI single that scored pinch runner Felicia Houtz after Olivia Hegedus reached on an error.

Akron then retired the Bulldogs in order in the bottom of the frame to take the game to extra innings. With the international tiebreaker rule in effect, each team placed a runner on second base to start the inning. After moving the runner to third with a sacrifice bunt by Feltes, the Zips could not bring the run home. Butler, on the other hand, plated the run with a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly to win the game.

Bauer (5-4) threw 7.1 innings for the Zips and notched seven strikeouts while allowing just one earned run and no walks. Jenny Esparza pitched 8.0 innings for BU and fanned 10 while walking two and did not allow an earned run. Feltes, Cassie Gleisner, and Stromack were the only Zips to record hits in the afternoon contest.

Akron will return to the field for weekend doubleheaders at Winthrop and Presbyterian on March 26 & 27.