“Get’em on, get’em over, get’em in.”
That is the philosophy implored by many teams to generate runs. Tuesday afternoon at the softball stadium, as sunny skies were turning gray and the temperature began its free fall, the Miami University softball team had little problem with the first two, but had a tough time putting runs on the scoreboard.
However, thanks to a combined two-hitter from freshmen pitchers Shalise Lugo and Meredith Linch, Miami (12-25-1, 2-2 MAC) was able to knock off Marshall (22-17, 6-6 CUSA) 3-1.
The RedHawks stranded seven runners on base, four of them in scoring position. Luckily, Miami threw two of its best into the circle to pitch against Marshall.
The ‘Hawks managed to use a little two-out rally in the home-half of the third to provide all the runs the Killer L’s would need.
The dynamic duo of Linch and Lugo were lights out; together they combined to pitch seven innings, giving up just the two hits and one run. The only blip on the radar for the two pitchers came in the top of the fourth inning, when Thundering Herd slugger Rachel Folden drove the first pitch she saw over the fence in right center.
First baseman Halle Popson started the rally with a base hit, but it was the hustle of Christine Bills, beating out an infield single, that kept the inning alive. Leslie Macedo stepped up and doubled into the gap, driving in the first run of the game. With runners on second and third, the Thundering Herd elected to intentionally walk Sarah Billstrom to load the bases. However, the team didn’t anticipate that pitcher Abigail Harter would walk Kimberly Williams, to score the second Miami run.
Two runs were all Miami would need on the afternoon, but Breanna Robinson added an insurance run in the sixth with a home run to left field.
The biggest story on this day, however, was the great pitching from Miami’s two freshmen. Lugo, making just her ninth start and 10th appearance since coming off of shoulder surgery seven and a half months ago, continued to impress.
“Right now, I’m just trying to figure out how to get my new shoulder working the way my old one did,” Lugo said.
Despite her success, Lugo still feels that she is not as good as she can be. Once she gets there, the team will be in for a treat. Her best sequence of the game came in the top half of the fifth with Miami still clinging to a one run lead, with a runner on third and two outs. Lugo summoned the composure of a seasoned veteran and pulled the string on a changeup to get Rachael Sofie out on strikes.
Lugo’s partner in crime, Linch, was coming off a great week, in which she posted a 1.12 ERA and won MAC East Pitcher of the Week honors.
“It’s very humbling that I have been able to successfully put what my coaches have taught me to the test in game situations with my pitching,” Linch said. “I know that they have helped me so much with my mechanics.”
The ever-modest Linch had to face a bit of a pressure situation herself. With the powerful Rachel Folden leading off the seventh inning, the call was made to pitch around her. With full confidence, Linch walked Folden to bring the tying run to the plate. From there, she made it look easy; striking out the next batter, and eventually retiring the side on a routine ground ball to the shortstop.
“The main reason I was confident in the seventh inning is because I know our defense would be strong just as they had been all game,” Linch said.
Miami’s second game of the doubleheader was canceled due to inclement weather. The RedHawks put their two-game winning streak on the line against Northern Illinois and Western Michigan this weekend.
Friday the ‘Hawks will play a doubleheader against the Huskies, and then have single games against the Broncos both Saturday and Sunday.