Marian softball earns tournament berth in split with Benedictine

Gianna Esposito makes contact.

FOND DU LAC - Marian University softball (22-10, 14-4 NACC) earned a NACC Tournament berth in a split with Benedictine winning the opener 8-7 before a 10-5 defeat.

The Sabres opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when freshman Peyton Loesch plated sophomore Ally Fox with a single.  This lead didn't last long, however, as the Eagles plated five runs in the next half inning.  Benedictine added to their lead with a run in the fourth to go ahead 6-1 before Marian began a rally.

A triple from junior Lindsey Strainis plated a pair to open the scoring in the fourth before Strainis was brought in with a single from sophomore Gianna Esposito to bring the score to 6-4.  It was Strainis and Esposito once again doing the damage in the fifth inning as the Sabres retook the lead.  Strain doubled to bring in freshman Kenzie Waechter before a three-run homer from Esposito.  The long ball put Marian ahead 8-6 and was Esposito's fourth of the season.

Benedictine would rally in the seventh plating a run and putting the game-tying run on third before sophomore Paige Rauhut shut the door on the victory.  Rauhut (13-3) earned the complete game victory only allowing five earned runs.

The top five hitters in the Marian lineup combined for nine of the 11 hits, with Strainis, Esposito, Loesch and freshman Katy Croeker all recording two hits.  Esposito drove in four runs, while Strainis had three runs driven in.

Similarly, in game two, Benedictine took an early lead behind a lot of two-out hitting jumping out to a 6-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third.  Waechter opened the Marian scoring with a solo homer, the first of her career.  The Eagles responded with an equalizer in the top of the fourth before Marian put up a crooked number in the bottom half.

Croeker opened the scoring in the inning with a solo home run, her third of the season.  Junior Rachel Soch then had a great at bat which ended in the first home run of her career, a two-run blast.   Fox closed out the inning with a double that brought in Waechter to put the score at 7-5.  This would be as close as Marian would manage, however, as more two-out hitting allowed Benedictine to extend their lead out to 10-5, the eventual final.

Freshman Myranda Schuttenhelm closed out the final 4.1 innings for the Sabres allowing four earned runs.

Eight of the nine Sabre starters recorded a hit in the defeat led by Croeker and Waechter who each had multi-hit games.  Waechter closed out the day 2-3 with two runs scored and a run driven in, while Soch was the lone Sabre with multiple runs driven in.

Marian closes out the home portion of their season tomorrow, Saturday, April 28, when the Sabres host Aurora at noon in NACC action.

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