NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Thirty-seven batters … 24 runs … two home runs … two doubles.
Just a few of the extraordinary numbers that Manchester University put up in two frames of a critical Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader Wednesday, April 25.
A large scale of the total occurred in the nightcap. After Bluffton University opened a 3-0 lead behind a pair of walks and a home run, the partisan Spartans' crowd at Spartans Field was treated to a thrill ride. Five straight singles quickly tied the game at 3-3, as senior second baseman Laurren Ladwig (Crown Point, Ind.), junior third baseman Kate Skeens (Gas City, Ind.) and sophomore first baseman Makenzi Nyland (Avon, Ind.) chased scores home. It was just the beginning, though, as junior outfielder Krystal Sellers (Bourbon, Ind.) gave MU a lead it wouldn't relinquish with a one-out run-scoring single.
The roll continued from there. As a 17-run, 16-hit bottom of the first weaved along, Ladwig and Skeens each blasted home runs. Ladwig, as part of a sparkling four-for-four, seven RBI, three-run scored contest, cleared the bases for a grand slam, and Skeens, who was three-for-three with two runs scored and two RBI, launched a solo shot. Freshman hurler Haley Perez (Elkhart, Ind.) was the beneficiary of the 18-run, 19-hit outing earning her seventh win of the season.
MU's 26-run offensive explosion took some time to boil. BU starting pitcher Nicole Thomas kept the Black and Gold bats quiet in the opener, while her offense nicked Spartans' starter Madisyn Walter (Hanna, Ind.) to the tune of three early scores. That pattern changed for the remainder of a brisk spring afternoon/early evening in the home half of the sixth.
Buoyed by four visiting errors, Dzurick's crew pounced behind seven hits including doubles off the bats of Sellers and Thompson in route to an 8-3 lead. Walter closed out a complete-game victory with a three-up, three-down seventh.
Manchester University winds up the conference and regular season Saturday, April 28. The Spartans (17-17 overall, 9-5 league) travel to Lexington, Ky., for a 1 p.m. twin bill at conference-leading Transylvania University.