NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Sophomore second baseman Laurren Ladwig (Crown Point, Ind.) picked a big moment to collect her first hit of a doubleheader for Manchester University Monday, March 28.
Ladwig, stepping into the batter's box in the bottom of the sixth, took an 0-1 pitch from St. Mary's College of Indiana relief pitcher Jessica Alberts and launched it over the left center field fence at Spartan Field, plating junior outfielder Emilee Liston (Cicero, Ind.) and sophomore outfielder Mallorie Jennings (Bourbon, Ind.) ahead of her to give the home side an 8-6 lead. From there, senior hurler MacKenzie Williams (Kendallville, Ind.) wrapped up a gritty complete-game victory, working around a two-out walk to close the Spartans' nightcap victory.
Ladwig's late-inning heroics concluded a back-and-forth Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference – Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match-up. MU, improving to 11-5, took a 2-0 lead in the first with freshman third baseman Kate Skeens (Gas City, Ind.) hammering a home run to left center that plated herself and Liston. The Belles, who dropped to 10-9, responded with two in the second and a single run in the third for a 3-2 lead, but the home team remained resilient, as Jennings laced a two-run single up the middle, and Liston followed with an RBI double in the fourth for a 5-3 advantage. The visitors answered right back with two in the fifth and one in the sixth for a 6-5 lead, setting up the Black and Gold's sixth inning comeback.
Williams, increasing her record to 5-2, battled throughout, allowing 14 hits and five earned runs but kept the ball around the plate with three strikeouts and just two walks to gain her sixth complete game of the year. Liston topped the offense in the win with three hits, while Jennings, Skeens, senior first baseman Jessica Chorak (Elkhart, Ind.) and freshman designated player Sydney Thompson (Logansport, Ind.) added two hits each.
St. Mary's captured the opener 9-0 in six innings. The Belles produced 11 hits and multiple-run efforts in the first, fourth and sixth innings to spark the decision. Liston topped the offense with a pair of safeties off SMC starting pitcher Sarah Burke who was tough on the home side, striking out six and allowing just one runner to reach third base.
MU continues a stretch of six games in six days Thursday, March 31, traveling to Hope College of Holland, Mich. First pitch is 3:30 p.m.
NOTES: Skeens, who tallied hits in both ends of the doubleheader, moved her personal hit streak to 10 consecutive contests. She and Liston also have long on-base skeins intact, as Liston has reached in 15 straight outings, and Skeens has done so in 14 successive appearances … Williams matched a single-season personal best in complete games with the game two victory, as she also had six during her sophomore campaign … Ladwig stands just one RBI shy of the 50th of her career.