Central Methodist Softball Wins Eighth Straight, Defeats Hannibal-LaGrange
HANNIBAL, Mo. - Central Methodist picked up its eighth straight softball win Thursday with a doubleheader sweep of Hannibal-LaGrange by scores of 16-4 and 10-0 in five innings.
Central Methodist (14-9-1) combined for 26 runs on 34 hits in the two-game sweep of Hannibal-LaGrange (10-10). Following game two, Central Methodist coach Pat Reardon picked up his 539th career win, tying former Saint Francis (Ill.) coach Dick Smith for 14th on the NAIA's all-time list.
Trailing 1-0 in game one, Central Methodist's Melanie Wilmsmeyer erased the deficit with a two-run homer, her third of the season, in the top of the second inning. The Lady Trojans eventually regained the edge 3-2 in the third on a Rachel Hughes' RBI single before the Eagles exploded for six runs in the fifth.
With two outs, Lauren Geringer doubled to deep left center, starting a parade of eight straight Eagle batters reaching base. Central Methodist took the lead for good, 4-3, when pinch runner Nikki Giovenco scored from first on a fielding error. Wilmsmeyer hit a RBI single to stretch the difference to two. A Maddie Watson two-run double and Erika Reinagel RBI single made the score 8-3.
After the teams traded a run in the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth, Central Methodist's bats again came alive, this time with seven runs on as many hits in the seventh inning. The top of the frame was highlighted when Courtney Dennis belted a three-run bomb, her fourth of 2013, over the center field fence. The homerun was the 14th of Dennis' career, giving her sole possession of fourth place on the school's all-time list and breaking a tie with Kayla Yount, a former infielder from 2009-12 and current graduate assistant with the Eagles.
Wilmsmeyer led all players in game one with three hits. Reinagel, Dennis, Robbins, Watson, Jacqui Cappuccilli and Mary Kate Townley each had two hits. Dennis and Wilmsmeyer drove in four runs apiece.
Bri Ford (5-3) went the distance for her fourth straight complete game in the circle. She allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits.
Pitcher Kristina Strader (1-1) took the loss in game one after giving up eight runs, five earned, on 10 hits in four and two-third innings.
Unlike the first contest, the Eagles put the second affair to bed early. The Green and Black scored nine runs in the top of the first inning, with four coming off the bat of Megan Robbins in the form of a grand slam, her first homerun of the campaign. Geringer started the barrage with a two-run double. Reinagel and Townley later had back-to-back RBI doubles before Nicole Beck's RBI single to right center made the score 9-0.
The Eagles added one run in the second inning when Johnica Hanke touched home on Bri Kirkland's RBI single. From there, Aubrey Utley cruised in the circle for the Eagles, allowing only one hit in five innings.
Reinagel, Townley and Hanke each had two hits to lead the Green and Black in game two, as 12 different Eagles recorded at least one hit. Robbins' four RBI were the most among all players in game two.
Utley (8-3) tossed the complete game shutout to go along with six strikeouts. Thursday's victory was the 58th of the Trenton, Mo., native's career, tying Evangel's Wendy Niebuhr (2002-05) for the most in Heart of America Athletic Conference history among current member institutions.
Pitcher Sarah Morris (3-4) suffered the defeat in game two, surrendering 10 runs, eight earned, on 13 hits in only two innings.
Central Methodist, which heads to MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) on Saturday, remains atop the league standings as the only undefeated team left in HAAC play. The Eagles and Pioneers square off in a doubleheader with first pitch set for 1 p.m. CT.