The Kent State Tuscarawas softball team dropped a doubleheader to Stratford University on Saturday afternoon in their last home series of the season. The visiting Cardinals won the first game 7-1 and took the second 18-14 as the Golden Eagles made the Virginians work for both wins.
On the day, the Golden Eagles pounded out 29 hits, which is by far their highest total of the season even though they stranded 18 runners on base. Twenty of those hits came in the second game of the day
In the opening game, the Golden Eagles stranded nine baserunners in scoring position, once with runners on second and third, and twice with the bases loaded. Time and time again it seemed that Stratford came up with huge plays to halt the scoring threats and put an end the inning. The Cardinals scored twice in each of the first, third and sixth innings and added a single run in the fourth before the Eagles scored a single run in the bottom of the sixth as Hailey Myers singled home Karlee Peach.
In the late afternoon contest, Stratford scored 12 runs after the Golden Eagles had recorded two outs. The Cardinals jumped on top with five-run first inning and added four more tallies in the second and scored five more runs in the top of the fourth inning with their backs against the wall as they were down to their final out of the frames.
Stratford led 5-0 after the visiting half of the first inning before the Eagles got three straight singles by Caldwell, Micaiah Stemple and Peach to load the bases. Myers hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Caldwell and Jorden Moore singled home Stemple before the uprising was stemmed by a controversial infield fly rule pop out and a line drive out to right field and the score was 5-2. The infield pop up went into short right field with three Cardinals giving chase and the ball dropped between them as the rule was invoked much to the displeasure of fans dressed in navy and gold.
After Stratford plated four runs in the top of the second inning, the Golden Ealges stormed right back with five runs of their own to claw back to within 9-7 after two complete innings of play. Caldwell started the inning with a single and went to third on a fielder's choice by Karlee Peach who was safe at first. Sabrina Smith followed with an RBI single to left field and Myers singled to load the bases. That's when Jorden Moore bombed a grand slam to left center field on a 1-0 pitch. The four-bagger was the first and last of Moore's career with the Navy and Gold and the well-like catcher received quite a hero's welcome at the plate.
The Cardinals were held to a lone run in the third inning to take a 10-7 lead, before the Golden Eagles wrestled away the lead in the bottom of the third with four runs of their own. Moner and Caldwell started things off with singles and Smith scored them both with a single of her own. A double by Myers scored two more and the hosts took their first lead of the afternoon and the game at 11-10. The lead was short-lived however, as Stratford scored five times in the fourth on three hits and two errors after two of the first three batters were retired. With the lead at 15-10 KSU got a double by Laken Ward to start the inning and after two consecutive outs, they strung together some two-out lightning of their own with three singles---one a two RBI hit by Peach---to trim the lead to 15-14 before they stranded three base runners.
With single runs in each of the final three innings, Stratford held the Eagles scoreless to claim the victory.
Moore led the 20-hit parade for the Eagles with a grand slam, double and a single on a five RBI performance. Caldwell had four singles and scored four runs, Ward added a double and two singles, Smith brought home three runners with three singles, Myers had a double and a single for three RBIs and Peach added two RBIs with two base hits.
KSU Tuscarawas visits Edison State University on Monday in their last games of the 2019 season.
Laken Ward is tagged out at the plate. (Photo by Memories by Lois)
Makenzie Moner tags out a Stratford runner trying to steal second. (Photo by Memories by Lois)