MANSFIELD - Following Friday's softball twinbill between Mansfield and Lock Haven, MU Associate Director of Athletics Kris Decker was heard reminding Mansfield Sports Information Director that it was a good day to be a Mountaineer.
Actually Decker could have said it was a great day to be a Mountaineer because the Lady Mountaineers had just hung a pair of losses on the Lady Eagles by scores of 8-2 and 5-4.
Following the two wins, MU head coach Edith Gallagher was all smiles as she was busy putting the equipment away.
"You are feeling good and believing in yourselves when that happens," Gallagher said. "It is senior day, you have a lead and that makes it easier to get hits when you are loose and relaxed at the plate."
Going into the doubleheader, LHU head coach Kelly Shannon was hoping for a sweep. Even if the sweep didn't happen, Shannon might have been satisfied with a split.
However, as the two games unfolded and the issues were decided, neither happened as Shannon and her players had to make the long trip back to Clinton County following a pair of losses.
"We don't play well here," said Shannon, who was a standout player at Mansfield. "In my four years as head coach we haven't played well here. I couldn't tell you why because I don't know what that is. I am sure there is a little extra fire in them when they know that I am coming back, but for some reason, it doesn't light up my team."
Carrying the big stick for the Mountaineers in the first game was Jersey Shore graduate Courtney Bauder. The sophomore infielder went 2 for 3 with a triple, driving in three runs and scoring a pair. For the twinbill, Bauder finished 3 for 6 with a pair of triples, driving in five runs and scoring the pair.
"We have a lot on the line and we are working hard, striving to reach our goals," said Bauder. "The last time we played Lock Haven I didn't do so hot so this time, I just wanted to show them that I stepped my game up."
Having played in a lot of big games, including a state championship at Jersey Shore, Bauder has been there and done that. That being said, she knows what it means for the Lady Mountaineers to be headed for the PSAC tournament after falling short of that goal one year ago.
"We are playing as one big family and we are playing hard because we want to do something special this year," Bauder said. "I am trying to stay relaxed and play each game like it's just another day at the ball field. As a team, we are all really excited, we want to go as far as we can and we are planning to bring home the gold."
Gallagher likes the effort and performance she is getting from Bauder.
"That is a great day for her and she is doing a phenomenal job for us," praised Gallagher. "She is so quick because triples are so hard to get in a park that is only 225 to center. She does a good job at the plate and believe me, we are so happy that she is only a sophomore."
Mansfield blew the first game wide open with three runs in the third and five in the fourth for an 8-0 lead and they never looked back.
Doing most of the damage in those frames were Bauder with a bases-loaded triple and two runs, Stephanie Simmeth with a pair of doubles good for three RBI plus Kate Pratt and Chara Dixon with RBI singles.
Kept off the scoreboard for the first five innings of the first game, LHU scored its first run in the fifth when Brittany Favazza reached on a fielder's choice and scored when Chelsea Edwards' fly ball to left was mishandled.
With the score 8-1, Nicole Smith set the final at 8-2 Mansfield when she belted a solo home run to deep centerfield with two outs in the seventh.
In the nightcap, LHU seemed to have things under control while holding a 2-0 lead through four innings on the strength of Smith's second home run of the afternoon, a towering two-run shot to left.
Mansfield tied the game at 2-all with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth on the strength of a double by Taylor Stupski and a two-run single by Simmeth.
LHU battled back to go up 4-2 in the sixth when Edwards and Brianna Jennings belted back-to-back solo homers to left-center.
Showing a never-say-die attitude, Mansfield used a pair of singles, a walk, a fielder's choice and Bauder's second triple for a 5-4 lead.
With Emily Crandall on in relief for MU, Smith singled and Alicia Cacciotti reached on a Mansfield error, but Crandall responded to the challenge by striking out Edwards for the final out of the game to preserve the 5-4 MU victory.
While the pair of wins are important for seeding in the PSAC tournament, they are even more important at the regional level for the Lady Mountaineers.
"These two wins are huge for us in terms of the regional rankings," said Gallagher. "When you beat number three in the region coupled with several teams in front of us who have been losing a lot recently, it is really big for us."
With the results, Mansfield improves to 24-12 overall and 10-4 in the PSAC-Central, while the double loss drops LHU to 28-10 overall and 11-3 in the conference.