NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Junior Madisyn Walter (Hanna, Ind.) and freshman Tristyn Koon (Kokomo, Ind.) might have been somewhat of an unknown commodity going into the 2017 Manchester University softball season.
After their performance against returning National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics' World Series participant Huntington University Tuesday, Feb. 21, their recognition and stock rose. Walters, who appeared in only seven games with two starts for Coach Josh Dzurick's program in 2015, stepped back to the forefront of the Black and Gold staff in the opener against the Foresters, not allowing an earned run in seven frames while giving up only one extra base hit. Koon, making her first appearance in a Spartans uniform, was just as tough on the visitors in game two, retiring the first 10 batters she faced. The two pitching gems highlighted a 3-2, eight-inning game one loss and a 1-1 second game tie that was called due to darkness after five frames.
MU's offense responded in the opener after Huntington plated two unearned tallies in the sixth. Senior outfielder Emilee Liston (Cicero, Ind.) rapped an RBI single, and sophomore catcher Sydney Thompson (Logansport, Ind.) got a grounder past the Foresters' infield to plate the tying run. Huntington broke the tie, scoring the eventual winning run on an infield single that went just beyond the third base bag, while the home side's attempt, with the international rule in place, in the bottom of the inning was stalled with the tying run at third.
The nightcap was just as close-knit. After HU busted up Koons' perfect game bid with two hits in the fourth to plate a run, the Spartans (0-1-1) answered in the bottom of the fifth as nightfall raced across Spartan Field. Thompson belted a double to left field; junior outfielder Mallorie Jennings (Bourbon, Ind.) dropped a bunt that spun past the visiting first baseman; and, after Huntington picked up two quick outs, freshman first baseman Shakira Perez (Elkhart, Ind.) singled to drive in Thompson. A ground out ended a chance to push across the lead run, and the game was called at that point.
Manchester University continues a season-opening four-game homestand Saturday, March 4. Hope College of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association comes to town for a 1 p.m. doubleheader.