Mounties swept as they chase playoff bid

MANSFIELD – For the Mansfield University softball team, Easter Sunday couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

Facing the task of playing seven doubleheaders with huge playoff ramifications in ten days, the arms and legs of the Lady Mountaineer players might be suffering from a little fatigue.

On the heels of twinbill splits with East Stroudsburg and Kutztown during the three previous days, the Lady Mounties’ run for the PSAC?softball playoffs took a hit Saturday at Helen Lutes Field as they dropped a pair of games to Bloomsburg, 13-2 and 6-2.

With the results, Bloomsburg (10-6) moves past Mansfield (9-11) into the fourth spot in the standings.

“We have no choice but to keep moving ahead,” said MU head coach Edith Gallagher. “It was just a bad day at the ball park and you have to forget it and move forward. All we can do is come out next week and fight a lot harder than we did today.”

While Gallagher was disappointed with the pair of losses, Bloom head coach Susan Kocher liked what she saw.

“I thought we played with a lot of composure and poise today,” said Kocher. “We were behind the whole first game, but we hung in there until we had a few things go our way. We had a lot of enthusiasm and overall, we played very well today. I was really pleased with the fact that we were able to put two whole games together and play strong the whole day.”

The Lady Mountaineers took a 2-0 lead in game one that held up through the first four innings.

Former Jersey Shore standout Courtney Bauder picked on the first offering from former Warrior Run Lady Defender Taylor Parker and deposited it over the leftfield fence for a solo home run to lead the game off for Mansfield.

The Lady Mounties made it 2-0 in the fourth when with two outs, Kaitlyn Harris singled to center, went to second on a wild pitch by Parker and scored on a RBI single by Ashley Inman.

The 2-0 lead looked good into the fifth inning with pitcher Kate Pratt apparently in command, but then Bloom sent 11 batters to the plate to come away with seven runs before the Huskies added six more in the seventh for the 13-2 final.

“Pratt was on her third day and that might have been a factor,” Gallagher said. “She threw a great game down at (East) Stroudsburg Thursday and then came back to throw seven innings of one-hit ball here yesterday. She has been doing great, but she just lost her legs in the fifth.”

As for Parker, she never doubted that her teammates could turn things around.

“I knew they had my back and we were able to string some hits together,” Parker said.

Although Bloom jumped all over the Mounties in the fifth inning, Gallagher was quick to point out that the collapse wasn’t really the fault of the pitching staff.

“Our defense and not our pitching staff really let us down today,” she said. “You can’t really give a team extra outs in this league like we did today and expect to win.”

Other than Bauder’s blast and Mansfield’s single tally in the fourth, Parker was in complete control of the game. Parker, a freshman, finished by allowing the two runs on five hits, striking out five while walking just one.

At the plate, Parker also showed her versatility as she went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI. Her two hits were her eighth double of the year and her first career triple.

“I hadn’t been hitting very well so I knew that I had to come today and help out,” Parker said.

For Mansfield in the first game, Kaitlyn Harris and Ashley Inman each had a pair of hits, while in game two, no Lady Mountaineer could show more than one hit. Adding additional local flavor to go along with Parker and Bauder was former Jersey Shore Lady Bulldog Holly Peacock. Peacock started a third base for Bloom and finished with two hits in three official at-bats while scoring the go-ahead run for the Lady Huskies.

In the second game, the Lady Huskies were pretty much in command of things as they put up a crooked number “3” in the first inning. Although Mansfield crept to within a pair of them at 4-2, they answered the challenge with two insurance runs in the top of the seventh.

While Parker was on top of her game in the circle in the first game, she drew the starting nod at shortstop in the second game and responded with her third home run of the season, a two-run shot in the 3-run Bloom first inning.

As for Parker, Kocher knows what she has in the young freshman.

“We knew Taylor since she was in sixth grade,” said Kocher. “We always knew that she was an outstanding pitcher and player, but I have to say in a positive way that she is even better than we thought she was. We saw her mostly as a pitcher (in high school), but she is just a phenomenal athlete.”

As for pitching or playing defense, Parker said she has no real preference.

“It makes me feel real good when I can do a lot of things out there (in the field),” said Parker. “I like them both and as long as I am on the field, I just want to do whatever I can to help us win. In high school, I had to pitch almost every game so having a chance to get back out in the field and play feels real good.”

Now facing four more twinbills in a five-day period, Gallagher doesn’t see her team bouncing back as a problem.

“We play Tuesday and Wednesday, have Thursday off and then come back and play Friday and Saturday,” Gallagher said. “These guys have great character and they’ll bounce back. I have no doubts about that.”

Bloomsburg 000 070 6-13 14 1

Mansfield 100 100 0-2 5 3

Bloomsburg (17-11, 9-6 PSAC East): Taylor Parker (W, 1-5) and Anna McElroy

2b Erika Yanora, Kayla McHale, Taylor Parker, Rachel Fredell 3b Sarah Bertoni, Parker HR Chrissy Belko (6 RBI Parker 3, McHale 2, Bertoni 2, Fredell 2, Belko 2, Hannah Moir, Erika Yanora

Mansfield (17-12, 9-10): Kate Pratt (7-5), Ashley Inman (5), Laura Knight (7) and Hannah Secord. 2b Ashley Inman HR Courtney Bauder (3) RBI Bauder, Inman

Bloomsburg 301 000 2-6 10 2

Mansfield 000 011 0-2 6 2

Bloomsburg (18-11, 10-6 PSAC East): Mallory Tomaschik (W, 4-2) and Anna McElroy 2b McElroy 3b Erika Yanora HR Taylor Parker (1). RBI Parker 2, Yanora, Kayla McHale, Mandi Baer, Sarah Bertoni

Mansfield (17-13, 9-11 PSAC East): Emily Crandell (L, 6-6) and Alanna Jenkins 2b Courtney Bauder RBI Kate Pratt