Maybe more so this year than anytime previously, the margin for error for softball teams in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference in razor thin.
EMU's young team came close to a pair of road wins at newcomer Ferrum College Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, close wasn't enough, as the Royals limped home with a pair of two-run losses.
Eastern Mennonite (13-13/2-8 ODAC) has a couple of days to prepare for rival Bridgewater (16-10/4-6 ODAC). EMU hosts the Eagles on Wednesday, with first pitch of the doubleheader at 3:00pm on Gehman Field.
Wednesday is also designated as a NFCA StrikeOut Cancer Game, raising awareness and funds in the fight against cancer.
Ferrum 5, EMU 3
The Royals pushed at least one runner into scoring position in every inning of the opener against the Panthers, yet trailed 2-0 when Cassidey Chrisman (Staunton, Va./Riverheads) doubled in their first run in the fourth. Ferrum started their half of the fourth with three straight hits, bringing home three more runs for a 5-1 margin.
Emily Davis (King George, Va./Fredericksburg Christian) and Nicole Mongold (Page County, Va./Page County) each had an RBI single in the top of the seventh, but a fly ball to center came up short of the fence to end it, leaving the tying runs on base.
EMU left nine runners on base in the game, all but two in scoring position.
Mongold finished 4-4 from the plate, scoring one run and driving in another. Alia Miller (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) batted a perfect 3-3, including a sacrifice.
Kelsi Martin (Buena Vista, Va./Parry McCluer) gave up all five runs in 3.0+ innings of work, falling to 6-7 with the loss. Emily Campbell (Broadway, Va./Broadway) allowed just one hit over the final 3.0 frames.
Ferrum 6, EMU 4 – 8 innings
The women got on the board first in the second game, with an RBI single from Sierra Lantz (Broadway, Va./Broadway) in the top of the first. But Ferrum put together five hits in their first frame; despite leaving the bases loaded, FC scored twice to go ahead. A solo homer in the fourth made it 3-1.
Eastern Mennonite continued getting runners on base, again putting at least one on in every inning. They finally dented home in the sixth, when Campbell beat out a potential double play ball with the bases loaded, bringing in Lantz to cut the margin to one.
After Campbell, on again in relief, earned a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, Danielle Brenneman (Waynesboro, Va./Stuarts Draft) led off the seventh with a double. Miller sent a one-out sacrifice fly to left, bringing in Brenneman to knot the score at 3-3.
The Panthers got their first two runners on in the bottom of the frame, but a double play ball crippled the rally, and a fly ball ended it, sending the game to extra innings.
Back-to-back infield pop-ups created worry in EMU's half of the eighth, but Davis came through with the single up the middle. Ferrum's centerfielder bobbled the ball, leaving Dallas Crawford (Front Royal, Va./Warren County) the green light to come home for the go-ahead run.
The Panthers worked their runner to third base with a sacrifice, but a pop-up to first put EMU one out away from the road win. After a walk, however, Lois Carpenter drove a three-run home run over the left field fence, giving Ferrum the walk-off win, 6-4.
Lantz provided a big stick out of the cleanup spot, batting 2-4 with a run and RBI. Davis finished 2-3 with a walk.
Miller started in the circle and gave up three runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings. Campbell finished the nightcap as well, finally taking the loss after just three hits in 4.1 innings of work.