Advancing is the name of the game at this time of the year and the Statesmen softball team found a way to do just that with a 9-8 win over #6 seed Mount Mercy in the first round of the Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament Thursday.
#3 seed William Penn (22-28) rallied with five runs in the bottom of the sixth to move onto the Final Four Tournament Saturday and Sunday. The squad will open the double-elimination event by facing #2 Clarke Saturday at 10 a.m.
On Thursday, each side produced a run in the first frame. Bri Zerley put the home team on the board by singling home Jorden Steele.
The Mustangs, who ended their year at 19-27, went back on top with two runs in the second (two WPU errors helped), but Marissa Pereyra gave the Statesmen their first lead with a three-run home run in the third. Pereyra now has two roundtrippers on the year.
The navy and gold continued to hold a 4-3 advantage into the fifth, but MMU tied it up with a homer of its own. Unfortunately, the visitors broke up the tie with a huge two-out rally in the sixth, plating four runs to lead 8-4.
Completely unfazed by what had just transpired, William Penn put its first six batters on base in the bottom half. With assistance from two Mustang errors, the hosts tallied five runs to claim the edge for good. Brittanee Grove had arguably the biggest hit with a two-run double.
The senior then closed it out with a perfect seventh frame. She started the game, but struggled through her first 2 1/3 innings. Lunden Young then replaced her and was solid for a while, until being knocked around herself in the sixth.
Grove (12-7) eventually went 3 1/3 frames (two strikeouts), while Young tossed 3 2/3 innings (one strikeout).
Zerley paced the offense with a 3-for-4 showing, including two RBIs and two runs scored. Ashlee Dennis, Taylor Vernon and Sydney Edwards all went 2-for-3 with a run scored (Dennis also had an RBI), while Pereyra had three RBIs and Grove had two. Steele matched Zerley by touching home plate on two occasions.
Gabrielle Braniff also walked twice in the victory. The Statesmen outhit the Mustangs 11-10 and overcame four errors.