Mounties drop PSAC opener to Cal
Senior Caitlin Klobosits broke the single-season strikeout record and freshman Ashley Inman belted her third home run of the year, but it wouldn't be enough to overcome a 10-hit offensive attack by No. 7 California as Mansfield dropped a 6-2 decision in the opening round of the PSAC Championship Tournament at Veteran's Park in Quakertown Wednesday afternoon.
Klobosits and California ace Alex Sagl teamed up for a strikeout dual early in the game. Sagl fanned four of the first six Mountaineers she faced while Klobosits struck out the first four California batters she faced.
Sagl got Cal's first hit of the game with one-out single in the bottom of the second. She moved to second on a sac bunt and scored on a two-out single by Natalie Wideman. Natalya Smarra followed with a double to plate Wideman giving the Vulcans a 2-0 lead before Klobosits retired the side on her fifth strikeout of the game.
Mansfield tried to counter in the Mountaineers next at-bat when Kaitlyn Harris led off the inning with a double down the right field line. But the next two batters stuck out before an inning ending infield pop-up ended the threat.
Cal scored two more runs in the bottom of the third after Shelby Lia led off with a single and, following Klobosits sixth strikeout in seven outs, Morris hit a two-run home run for a 4-0 advantage.
The Mountaineers came right back in the fourth inning when Kate Pratt delivered a one-out double to left field. After a strikeout, senior Danielle Long had what could have been a threat ending strikeout but the ball got away from the catcher and a throwing error allowed Pratt to score Mansfield's first run to cut the lead to 4-1.
Pratt, who took over from Klobosits on the mound in the third, held California scoreless in the fourth inning.
Harris opened the top of the fifth with a single to left but the Mountaineers couldn't advance the runner into scoring position.
Mansfield threatened again in the sixth when Pratt singled with one out but the Mountaineers, but Sagl fanned the next two batters to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Cal added two more runs on a single by Vallecorsa to increase the lead to 6-1.
Mansfield never gave up.
Freshman Ashley Inman led off the top of the seventh with a home run over the left field fence to cut the lead to 6-2 and Harris reached on a throwing error giving the Mountaineers a runner on first with no outs.
But Sagl struck out the next two batters before Courtney Bauder drew a walk to give Mansfield runners at first and second with two outs. Sagl got the final hitter to pop up to third to end the game.
Klobosits went 2.1 innings to be saddled with the loss, but the senior lefty struck out six over that time and now has 127 strikeouts for the season surpassing the school record of 125 set by Kelly (Morris) Shannon in 2000.
Pratt, who also threw 3.2 innings in the game, had two of Mansfield's five hits in the game including her 13 double of the season. Harris was also 2-3 with a double. Mansfield stranded six runners to California's five during the game.
Sagl went the distance, striking out 14 and walking one, to improve to 17-1 on the year. Sagl, Wideman and Vallecorsa each had two hits for the Vulcans who improve to 32-3 on the year.
The Mansfield University softball team will face Shippensburg in a loser's bracket game on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. at Veterans' Park in Quakertown.
Shippensburg lost 6-0 to Bloomsburg.
It's a tough draw for the Mountaineers who took three of four games from Lock Haven and Bloomsburg to end the regular season to earn a piece of the PSAC Central title.
Not only is Mansfield playing to advance in the PSAC playoffs, but the Mountaineers are also fighting for a spot in the upcoming NCAA Atlantic Regional Championship Tournament.
Mansfield has moved up to 7th in this week Regional Poll with the top eight teams advancing. However, the current top eight teams do not include a team from the CIAA, and their conference champion will get an automatic berth in the tournament eliminating at least one of the teams currently ranked in the top eight.
Mansfield, which drew California the No. 1 team in the Atlantic Regional poll and No. 7 team in the national poll, will now have to face Shippensburg, then No. 2 team in the Regional poll and No. 20 team in the national poll.
Bloomsburg, which is ranked 8th in the latest Atlantic Region poll, won twice today against regional No. 9 Gannon and No. 2 Shippensburg.
Mansfield and Shippensburg have not met this season.
Shippensburg has the top pitching club in the PSAC this season sporting a conference-low 1.44 ERA.
Ace Emily Estep went the distance today against Bloomsburg striking out 10 with Liz Parkins (8-0) and Makenzie Lynn (6-4) in reserve.
Mansfield used both of its starters Caitlin Klobosits and Kate Pratt today with Ashley Inman and Emily Crandell available also for tomorrow.