Saturday, April 27 brought an end to regular season play for the JCU softball team, as the Blue Streaks capped off the season with a series split against Heidelberg University, falling in game one, 2-1, and prevailing in game two, 6-3.
Sophomore Rachel Byrnes took the mound for the Blue Streaks in game one with the hopes of giving JCU the chance at a regular season conference title. Unfortunately for Byrnes, the first inning was not too kind to her, as Heidelberg was able to get two runners on base, both of whom crossed the plate after a triple was beamed into right field by the ’Berg’s Bri Sinden.
From then on, the bats went silent for both teams as neither side was able to put up a real threat until the seventh inning when JCU loaded the bases. The Blue Streaks were able to pull the game within one when Heidelberg walked senior Mackenzie Griffin with the bases loaded, scoring junior Lia Locey. But it turned out that was all that could be done for JCU, as Heidelberg was able to hang on and escape with the 2-1 victory.
Game two of the doubleheader was a flip of the script, as JCU came out victorious; although, it was not an easy win by any means. Heidelberg came out for game two still riding its adrenaline from game one and, in the bottom of the first, knocked in three quick runs, pushing the Blue Streaks back on their heels early.
Luckily for JCU, the bats did not take long to wake up when, in the top of the fourth, the Blue Streaks piled on five runs behind a barrage of hits in which sophomore Ally Kleinhans, junior Collen Brady and freshman Michaela Mackey all had RBIs.
That fourth inning would turn out to be enough as the ‘Berg was not able to put up any more runs, thanks in large part to the pitching of freshman Gina Tosti, who threw a fantastic game after her rocky start. Griffin would add an insurance run in the sixth when she doubled to left field, scoring junior Sam Becker. In the end, the Blue Streaks were able to get the series split and win game two, 6-3.
Byrnes finished the regular season with a very impressive 18-2 record, the best in the OAC. She leads a surprising, young team that no one saw as a top OAC competitor before the season started.
“People didn’t expect much from us this season, so it was great proving them wrong. Although we would have loved to have finished first in the conference and host the tournament, we are all still excited to play this weekend at OACs,” Byrnes said. “As long as we play like we know how to, we should be coming home happy this weekend.”
JCU finished the season with an overall record of 25-9, and finished 14-4 in the OAC, good enough for a No. 2 seed and a matchup with No. 3 Mount Union on Friday, May 3 at 10 a.m. in Bexley, Ohio.