Tucson, Ariz. - The Rockford University softball team (1-1) got off to a good start in the 2018 season as it faced off against the Bethany Lutheran College Vikings (2-4) as it dropped 20-5 to the Vikings before rebounding nicely against the Northland College Jills (0-6) winning 6-3, coming away with a split on the day.
Game one got off to a rocky start as the Regents fell behind 8-0 early in the first inning. Rockford fought hard as RU responded with three of its own in the top of the second. The inning got off to a good start as Sammi Russell (Winnebago, Ill.) and McCathran Andrew (Rockford, Ill.) both drew walks to give Rockford runners on first and second with no outs. One batter later the Regents would take advantage of a Viking error to score their first two runs of the game. Following an Abigail Wellwood (Rockford, Ill.) walk that put runners on the corners Rockford would get its final run of the inning on a wild pitch to make it an 8-3 game heading into the bottom of the second inning.
Unfortunately it would be as close as the Regents could get as Bethany Lutheran scored in each of the next three innings. The Vikings added 3 runs in the second, 4 in the third, and 5 in the fourth to take a commanding 20-3 lead heading into the top of the fifth.
However, the Regents still had a lot of fight left in them as they scored two more runs in the top of the fifth. Following an error to start the inning, Brittany Bihun (Schaumburg, Ill.) laced a single into the outfield to give the Regents runners on first and second with no outs. Two batters later the Regents would move the runners to second and third on a ground out, before scoring its final two runs of the game off a Viking error. Unfortunately it was not enough as Rockford fell in its season opener 20-5.
Game two got off to a much better start for the Regents as they scored 4 runs in the top of the second to take a quick 4-0 lead. Allison Kaiser (South Elgin, Ill.) and McCathran Andrew opened the inning to get things started giving Rockford two on with no outs. Two batters later the Regents would load the bases with one out following a McCathran Andrew stolen second base and Shannon LeGath (Sturtevant, Wis.) reached on an infield single. The very next batter, Gretchen Schrubbe (Elgin, Ill.) delivered a clutch two run single up the middle to give the Regents a 2-0 advantage. Sophomore Brittany Bihun followed suit with an RBI single of her own, to extend Rockford's lead to 3-0. The Regents' final run of the inning came courtesy of a Brooke Burris RBI ground out to put the Regents in front 4-0 in the bottom of the second.
However, the Jills' would answer back in the bottom half of the frame with two runs of their own to cut into the Rockford lead. Northland took advantage of a Rockford error to score both of those runs despite only having one hit in the inning.
Rockford would get one of the two runs back in the fourth as the Regents extended their lead to three, at 5-2. Brittany Bihun got the rally started crushing a lead-off double into left center to get Rockford into scoring position with no outs. Three batters later freshman Sammi Russell came through with a clutch two-out RBI single back up the middle to score Bihun and take a 5-2 lead.
The Regents would take on one more run in the top of the sixth to go back in front by four runs. This time it was Brooke Burris who got the Rockford offense going by drawing a one-out walk. She then worked herself into scoring position by advancing to third base on back-to-back wild pitches with two outs. It was once again Sammi Russell who came through with an RBI single to center field to put the Regents on top 6-2. Northland was able to add one run in the bottom of the sixth as Rockford came out on top victorious with a final score of 6-3.
Picking up the win for the Regents in game two was sophomore Brooke Burris. Burris had the Jills off-balance for most of the day as she scattered six hits and allowed just one earned run over her seven innings of work. Burris also had excellent command of her pitches as she struck out two and walked none.
Offensively Rockford had four players record multiple hits in the game. Freshman Sammi Russell led the way going 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs batted in. McCathran Andrew also had a nice game going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Fellow freshman Gretchen Schrubbe did a nice job setting the table out of her lead-off spot going 2-for-5 with 2 RBIs and a run scored. The final Regent with multiple hits was catcher, Britany Bihun. Bihun finished the game 2-for-5 with a double, a run scored, and a run batted in.
The Regents return to the field on Tuesday, March 6 for two more games in Tucson, Arizona. Rockford opens with Husson at noon, before taking on Central at 2:30.