FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Rockford University softball team split its two games on Tuesday with Elms College and Geneva College. The Regents began the day with a thrilling 8-7 victory over Elms before falling 7-1 to Geneva.
The Regent offense exploded for a season-high 8 runs on 11 hits against Elms to earn its first victory of the season. Rockford jumped out of the gates quickly scoring six runs in the first two innings to take an early 6-0 lead. In the top of the first inning, the Regents took advantage of two Elms' errors coupled with a Brittany Bihun (Schaumburg, Ill.) RBI single to grab a 2-0 advantage. Following a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the first, the Regents strung together six straight two-out hits, scoring four runs and extending their lead to 6-0. Freshman Nicole McCabe (Brookfield, Ill.) started the hit parade with a two-out single, and senior Lisa Blakeley-Snyder (Winnebago, Ill.) followed with a single of her own as Rockford now had runners on first and second. Fellow senior Stefaney Kenworthy (Veedersburg, Ind.) then laced Rockford's third consecutive single into the outfield scoring McCabe and making it a 3-0 game. One batter later, Bihun crushed a two-run double into right center, clearing the bases, and putting the Regents out in front 5-0. Sophomores Brooke Burris (Galatia, Ill.) and Taylor Pilarczyk (Chicago, Ill.) strung together the Regents' final two hits of the inning with Pilarczyk driving in Bihun to give her team a 6-0 lead.
However things would begin to tighten over the next two innings as Elms responded with five unanswered runs to make it a 6-5 game. Fortunately the Regents had an answer of their own, as they scored single runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to push the lead back to three runs at 8-5. In the fourth it was Bihun who got things started as she led off the inning with her second double of the game to give the Regents a runner in scoring position with no one out. Two batters later, Pilarczyk drove in her second run of the game with a single into center field scoring Bihun and giving Rockford a 7-5 lead. In the fifth inning Rockford scored their final run of the game off just one hit. The Regents showed excellent patience and poise at the plate getting hit by a pitch and drawing a walk to give themselves runners on first and second with two outs. Once again it was Bihun who stepped up to the plate and delivered a clutch two-out RBI single into right field giving her team a crucial insurance run as the Regents pushed their lead to 8-5.
Things would get a little dicey over the final three innings as Elms continued to put pressure on the Regents. The Blazers answered the Regents runs in the top of the fourth and the fifth with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the fifth to make it a one run game again. However, RU senior pitcher Stefaney Kenworthy dug deep over the final two innings, retiring six of the final seven Elms' hitters to secure an 8-7 Regent win.
Freshman Brittany Bihun was the story offensively for the Regents. Bihun was unstoppable at the plate going a perfect 4-for-4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs scored an 4 RBIs. Through six games this season Bihun leads the Regents in nearly every offensive category including hits (8), doubles (2), RBIs (6), batting average (.444), on-base percentage (.500) and slugging percentage (.556).
Inside the circle Stefaney Kenworthy picked up her first win of the season. Kenworthy tossed her third complete game in as many starts allowing just four earned runs and striking out three while walking none.
Game two of the day against Geneva was a defensive battle for much of the afternoon as the two schools combined to score just two runs through the first five innings. The Golden Tornadoes got on the board first with a single run in the opening frame to grab a quick 1-0 lead. The score remained unchanged until the top of third when Rockford strung together a trio of hits and scored one run to tie it up. Shannon LeGath (Sturtevant, Wis.) led off the inning with a single into right field as the Regents got their leadoff batter aboard for the first time in the game. Following two quick outs, Brittany Bihun and Brooke Burris delivered back-to-back singles into right field with the latter scoring LeGath and tying the game. It would remain tied until the bottom of the sixth despite Rockford having multiple scoring opportunities over the next few innings. The Regents left two runners on base in both the fourth and sixth innings, including leaving a runner on third base both times. Unfortunately it was the Golden Tornadoes who took advantage in the bottom half of the sixth, scoring six runs en route to the 7-1 win.
Brooke Burris pitched very well for much of her start allowing just three earned runs over her six innings of work. Burris also struck out one batter while walking two.
Offensively it was a bit of a tough game for Rockford as the Regents managed to score just one run after scoring eight in the previous game. Burris and LeGath each went 2-for-3 at the plate with Burris also driving in a run. Lynn Blakeley-Snyder (Winnebago, Ill.) was a perfect 2-for-2 in the game with a walk.
The RU softball team returns to the diamond on Thursday, March 9 for its final two games in Florida. The Regents are set to take on Rivier and Kenyon beginning at 9:00 AM Eastern Time.