Monday's two ODAC losses at Lynchburg were a microcosm of EMU's softball season.
The Royals made a handful of highlight plays, but a few little mistakes proved costly against yet another talented conference foe. The No. 19 Hornets seemed to capitalize on every EMU miscue, winning both ends of the twinbill to eliminate the Royals from postseason contention.
Eastern Mennonite (15-19/4-14 ODAC) will wrap up their season at Roanoke on Friday, with the doubleheader starting at 1:00pm. The women sit three games behind eighth place Shenandoah in the league standings, and cannot make the ODAC Tournament, ending a streak of 13 straight trips to the conference tourney.
No. 19 Lynchburg 8, EMU 3
The Royals looked ready to pounce in their first at-bat, with a double from Nicole Mongold (Page County, Va./Page County) putting runners on second and third with just one out. But two balls in the infield left the runners stranded.
Lynchburg (29-9/12-6 ODAC) wasted no time in seizing momentum. The first two batters drew walks, and then All-American candidate Mackenzie Chitwood launched a three-run homer to left center.
Mistakes and free passes again hurt EMU in the second, when the first batter reached on an error and the second on a walk. After a single, two more walks and an RBI groundout, the Hornets had plated three more runs for a 6-0 lead.
The Royals finally returned the favor in the fourth, getting a leadoff single followed by a walk. Kelsi Martin (Buena Vista, Va./Parry McCluer) brought in the first run with a double and then Mongold landed her second double of the game, this time a two-run hit down the left field line, getting EMU within 6-3.
After a quiet bottom of the fourth, Lynchburg brought in a new pitcher who changed the complexion of the game. She allowed just 10 batters over the final three frames, squashing any comeback attempts. The Hornets added two insurance runs in the fifth for the final margin.
Each team had eight hits in the game, but Eastern Mennonite committed three errors and offered up five free passes. Emily Campbell (Broadway, Va./Broadway) lasted 1.0+ and took the loss, giving up five runs. Martin pitched the final 5.0.
Half of EMU's hits were doubles. Mongold had two of them, finishing 3-4 with two RBIs. Danielle Brenneman (Waynesboro, Va./Stuarts Draft) added two hits, while Beck Hoskins (Danville, Va./Westover Christian Academy) reached base twice.
No. 19 Lynchburg 7, EMU 2
The story didn't change much in the nightcap, as the Royals again committed three errors and issued five walks. This time they actually out-hit Lynchburg, 10-8.
The women have up two runs in the bottom of the first, but escaped further damage by turning an attempted squeeze play into an inning-ending double play.
The Hornets pushed in another run in the second for a 3-0 lead.
EMU finally cracked the scoring column in the fifth when Brenneman tripled with one out. She came in on Mongold's sacrifice fly.
The momentum was short-lived, however, as a leadoff walk quickly led to another home run from Chitwood, this time a two-run shot. Chitwood upped her season marks to 14 home runs with 53 RBIs and a .393 batting average. An unearned run scored later in the frame followed by another unearned run in the sixth to make it 7-1.
Hoskins salvaged a highlight from the game by pulling a laser beam home run down the right field line in the seventh. It was the senior slap hitter's first career homer.
Hoskins, Mongold and Alia Miller (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) each had two hits in the game.
Miller also went the distance in the circle. Only four of Lynchburg's runs were earned.