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Spartans forge split in home finale

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A mix of a sparkling pitching effort from sophomore MacKenzie Williams (Kendallville, Ind.) and a long ball off the bat of sophomore designated player/catcher/outfielder Kaile Niezgodski (South Bend, Ind.) helped lift Manchester University to a 3-2 non-conference win over Huntington University Wednesday, April 23.

Williams kept the Foresters scoreless through six and two thirds innings on just four surrendered hits. HU (24-17) broke through with a two-run shot to left center field off the bat of center fielder Bess Flechter. Williams steadied herself and forced a ground out from the next hitter to wrap up the complete-game victory.

MU's offense gave its sophomore starter all the support she needed off the bat of Niezgodski. The squad's home run leader blasted a mighty shot to left field that hit off the top of the scoreboard, her fifth round tripper, to break up a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. Williams helped herself an inning later with an RBI double for a 3-0 edge.

The opener was just as nip-and-tuck. After the two sides traded runs in the first and third, the visitors opened up a 4-2 advantage after four and half innings with single scores in the fourth and fifth. Manchester University (10-22) battled back with three in the fifth thanks to back-to-back run-scoring singles from junior shortstop Emily Willmann (Montpelier, Ind.) and Williams.

Huntington answered back with an unearned run in the sixth and the eventual winning score in the seventh due to a one-out triple from Flechter that scored on a ground out. The hosts attempted a final at-bat comeback but junior center fielder Shannon Stephan (Granger, Ind.) was left on after a two-out infield single.

MU pounded out 14 hits in game one. Stephan and freshman designated player Emilee Liston (Cicero, Ind.) each finished with three safeties, while Willmann and senior third baseman Kylie Planck (Valparaiso, Ind.) added two each.

The Black and Gold return to Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference action Saturday, April 26. A key road trip to Rose-Hulman awaits with a possible slot in the conference's post-season tournament up for grabs. First pitch is 1 p.m.