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Foresters upset No. 2 Marian, split doubleheader

PITCH: Huntington University Lairen Miller pitches during a game earlier this season for the Foresters.

Article provided by Huntington University

The Forester softball team came up with one of the most impressive wins in program history Tuesday afternoon by eight-run ruling No. 2 Marian University on the road, 8-0, in the nightcap of their twin bill with the Knights. The loss snapped MU’s 20-game win streak and brought an end to their perfect run in the league.

The last time the Knights (26-2, 17-1) were mercy-ruled dates back to 2015 when they suffered an 8-0 loss to Ashford University. You have to go back to 2014 to find the last time a league school handed the CL powerhouse a five-inning loss.

The Foresters wasted no time clamoring in front of their hosts. They cashed in on five of their ten hits in their first at-bat to touch home five times for a lead that wouldn’t be challenged. Marian, ranked second nationally in field percentage, opened up the contest with a rare error that Joelle Beals took full advantage of to land on first.

Casey Lehman kept things going with an infield single after which Meghan Fretz’s fielder’s choice resulted in the bases loaded. Then began a string of RBI hits. Paige Eichelberger knocked in the first run with the inning’s second infield single. Abby Keaffaber found a hole in left field to drive in run number two.

Audra Klopfenstein, inserted back in the lineup after missing 21 games, came up with a clutch run-scoring base poke to the other side of the field after which Kennedy Krull cranked out a double to drive in the final two runs of the frame.

Grace Lumpkin took the brunt of HU’s quick 5-0 start. The junior hurler, who entered the day ranked 10th nationally in total runs allowed with 12, was tagged with the loss having given up all five runs, four of which were earned, before making her exit with just one out in the frame.

Freshman Meghan Fretz, on the other hand, was sensational in the circle for the Foresters. She went the distance to scatter five hits and issue just one walk while striking out one for the complete-game shutout. Not only was she dialed in, but so were here teammates who were perfect in the field to back her up.

Huntington’s bats came alive again in the fifth. Fretz and Eichelberger opened up the frame with back-to-back singles and two batters later, Klopfenstein hammered out another RBI-single, this time to the tune of two runs. Karley Blankenship then set in motion the mercy rule with a run-scoring groundout that extended the lead to eight.

Marian’s last chance at the plate was short-lived as Fretz worked three straight groundouts to secure the biggest win of her young career.

Klopfenstein paced Gower’s squad with two hits and three RBI. Eichelberger collected two hits and an RBI while Lehman also finished with a pair of hits.

Game one was a pitchers’ duel that featured last year’s league pitcher of the year Breena Smith and newcomer of the year Lairen Miller. It came down to the wire with Miller eventually conceding the 2-1 loss.

Smith gave up two hits in HU’s first three trips to the plate and then surrendered a run on a Keaffaber sacrifice fly. Huntington would coddle their 1-0 lead until the bottom of the fifth when Mackenzie Reeder matched Keaffaber’s sac fly with one of her own for the 1-1 stalemate.

It looked the game would head to extra innings as Smith sat down Huntington’s first three batters in the seventh and Miller was on her way to doing the same before the game took a drastic turn much to the chagrin of Gower and crew.

Down to their last out with empty bases, Marian pieced together three consecutive base smacks which included the game-winning dagger - a walk-off single by Issy Hoyt.

Marian finished with ten hits to Huntington’s four, two of which came at the bat of Lehman.

Huntington (15-12, 10-7) is back in action on Friday to host Bethel at 3:00 p.m.