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April 10, 2014

Williams’ complete-game effort sparks split

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Manchester University put the wraps on a season-long six-game home stand Wednesday, April 9, battling Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Defiance College.

The Spartans moved their season mark to 6-14 and conference record to 3-5 with a 6-3 nightcap victory and 9-2 opening-game defeat at the hands of the Yellowjackets (4-11, 1-7 HCAC).

Sophomore pitcher MacKenzie Williams (Kendallville, Ind.) fired a complete-game, four-hit, five-strikeout effort in the second game. She wasn't touched for an earned run over the seven innings, either.

After DC pushed across three unearned runs on two hits and with the help of two Spartan errors, MU put its rally caps on. Senior third baseman Kylie Planck (Valparaiso, Ind.) scored on a wild pitch, and junior shortstop Emily Willmann (Montpelier, Ind.) drove in a run in the first to cut the margin to 3-2. Opposing starting hurler Lauren Dicke kept the home side's bats quiet until the fifth from that point. In that frame, three Yellowjacket errors coupled with four hits, including an RBI double from Willmann and a run-scoring single from junior infielder Ashlea Nash (Gas City, Ind.), turned the tide for good.

The opener saw the two teams trade two-run rallies in the first (Defiance) and fourth (MU). The visitors broke up the knot with a combined seven-run outburst over the fifth and sixth innings to guide the decision.

Willmann's five-for-seven, three-double, three-run scored outing led the Black and Gold offense. She continued a stretch in which's recorded multiple-hit contests in four of her last five games played with her batting average jumping nearly 100 points (.212-.302). Planck also turned in strong numbers in game two with three hits and two runs scored, while Williams had both RBIs in game one.

The Spartans open a key league road trip Saturday, April 12, going to Lexington, Ky., for a doubleheader with Transylvania University. First pitch is 2 p.m. The following day, they go to Cincinnati, Ohio, to take on the College of Mt. St. Joseph at 2 p.m.

NOTES: Planck's been on a roll similar to Willmann, recording multiple-hit marks in three of her last four games played. The third baseman's batting average is up 37 points (.296-.333) in the span … Defiance's game one win ended a four-game Spartan win string in the series.