There’s no place like home.
Millersville softball (22-22, 10-14 PSAC East) had a dogged two days on Friday and Saturday, facing up against two PSAC East foes, West Chester (28-15, 15-7 PSAC East) and East Stroudsburg (13-20, 8-10 PSAC East) in two separate doubleheaders. On day one, the Marauders slayed conference powerhouse West Chester to reach six straight wins, 1-0 and 4-0. On day two, however, after traveling from Millersville to East Stroudsburg, their streak eradicated as they fell 1-0 and 3-0.
The mound-controlled two days kicked off with Millersville’s Brianna Andraos, who surely proved why she owns the conference’s top spot in wins (14), complete games (20) and shutouts (8). The sophomore pitched all seven innings while striking out four West Chester batters and only letting five reach base.
All-the-more impressive is that the Rams came into Friday with the biggest bats of all in the PSAC, with 233 runs scored. Not only did Andraos limit West Chester to a doughnut hole in the runs column, but she only let up a lone French fry in the hits column.
In the bottom half of the innings, West Chester’s Kim Murl (10-5) couldn’t match up to Andraos’ success in the top half. Murl found herself letting up six hits and one earned run against the Marauders in her six innings pitched. In fact, she hit more batters than she struck out, which made it the first time since March 22 that she hadn’t found herself with at least one strikeout in her start.
The Marauder she pegged? Jordan Sheffield, who went 2-2 with the lone run scored in the matchup.
In the third inning, the pitching duel had its only bump in the road—after two quick outs, no less. After Sheffield stirred things up with a two-out double, junior Danielle DiFilippo complemented Sheffield’s with her own double to bring her home and take a 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Murl got some revenge by hitting Sheffield with the pitch.
Four innings later, Murl wasn’t needed, as Andraos capped off the game with three quick ground-outs in the top of the seventh.
The Marauders’ dominant pitching continued in game two, as Andraos bequeathed the mound to fellow sophomore Amanda Wink (5-8). Following in Andraos’ footsteps, Wink also dumbed down the Rams’ explosive offense, as she completed all seven innings while achieving her first shutout of the season—and the second of her blossoming career.
In her third straight win, Wink recorded three strikeouts and only one walk. This paved the way for Millersville’s bats to come alive.
Unlike in game one, where Sheffield was the lone batter with multiple hits, there as triple the amount in game two. DiFilippo enhanced her .364 average with her 2-3; designated hitter Brittany Smith also went 2-3 with two runs scored; but it was first baseman Ashley Cantiello who shined the brightest, as she also went 2-3 but knocked in three of the four scorers in the game.
The first came with not much time wasted in the game in the second inning. Following a double by Smith, Cantiello singled to drive the first run of the game in against West Chester’s Katie Erb (7-7), who suffered her first loss since March 27.
After a rather silent couple of innings, Smith, Cantiello and DiFilippo helped pile it on in the bottom of the sixth. It didn’t start with a home run, an extra base hit or even a bloop single.
Nope. It was a bunt.
Speedy infielder Maria Spinosa landed herself on first base after receiving an infield hit on a bunt that couldn’t be handled by the catcher. Smith then singled and both runners advanced, thanks to a fielding error. Then, thanks to another case of clutch hitting by Cantiello this time, both of those runners scored.
Later that inning, Cantiello was replaced on the bags by Yisleidy Minaya-Vargas, who eventually scored off of another single from DiFilippo. The Black and Gold’s three-run inning finally came to a close after Sheffield was tagged out at third base.
The damage, however, was irreparable for West Chester, as they ended Friday off being shutout in consecutive games by the Marauders for the first time since April 23, 2002.
For the not-so-math-savvy, that’s 12 years.
Luckily, there won’t be much of a necessity for math for the Saturday games, as Millersville struggled mightily at the plate while visiting East Stroudsburg.
Albeit another strong outing from Andraos (14-11), letting up only one earned run, four hits and striking out four over her six innings, Millersville left eight runners stranded and missed plenty of opportunities.
The top of the very first inning, for instance, started off with Sheffield being struck by a pitch once again. After a sacrifice bunt by DiFilippo and a groundout by catcher Gabbie Berry, Sheffield was one base away from shooting out to an early lead. Spinosa, however, grounded out towards Sheffield’s direction and ended the possible rally.
It only took one meticulously managed fifth inning for East Stroudsburg to trump the Marauders in Saturday’s game one. It may have taken a pinch hitter, two fielder’s choices and a stolen base, but the Warriors managed to wheedle their way to a victory.
Wink was on the mound once more Saturday evening and only let up two earned runs, didn’t walk any batters, and saw her ERA continue to sharpen—to 3.42, to be exact—as it has throughout the season. After a rough start to 2014, Wink has only given up two earned runs in six of her last eight appearances.
But the difference-maker was not in Wink’s pitching. It was another case of missed opportunities, as the Marauders left five on base, were 0-9 with runners on base and 0-3 when they were in scoring position.
Case-in-point was the top of the fifth inning, where Millersville was a homer’s reach of a tie ballgame. Berry kicked the inning off on a good note, with a double to left field. All that was needed was a well-struck single up the middle for Berry to balance out the score; however, after a fielder’s choice, a groundout and a strikeout, runners never got the chance to make it to home—and, an inning later, East Stroudsburg sealed the deal by tacking on two more runs against Wink.
But, boy, did the Marauders wish they were home.
After their six-game winning streak was snuffed by the Warriors, Millersville is now 3-15 on the road, including 2-10 in the PSAC East. Additionally, five of the seven games in which the Marauders have been shut out have been when they were away.
On a positive note, they return home, sweet home, on April 25, where they’ll meet yet another PSAC East villain, Shippensburg, in another doubleheader. It’ll just take a bus to return to their safe haven, but it may take a twister or yellow-brick road in order to find a panacea for Millersville’s woeful road record this year.
Seeing as though they’re finishing off their season a day later at Mansfield, it might just be a good idea for the Lady Marauders to start looking for those ruby slippers, after all.