John Carroll University’s softball team needed a spark as Marietta College came to University Heights on Saturday, April 26 in what was the final series of the season for both teams.
That spark came from senior Samantha Becker, who helped lead the Blue Streaks to a sweep of Marietta to clinch a trip to the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament as the No. 4 seed.
Becker drilled a walk-off home run in the ninth inning of game one over the right-field fence to beat the Pioneers in stunning fashion, 5-4.
The blast was Becker’s second homer of the day. In the bottom of the first, Becker launched a solo shot to start things off. The Blue Streaks would, however, find themselves behind 4-1 after strong third and fourth innings from the Pioneers.
Following in Becker’s footsteps, freshman Carly Simecek refused to go down quietly. Her three-run homer to center field brought the Blue Steaks to within one in the fourth inning, and later tied the game 4-4 when she scored on a Pioneer error.
JCU left six runners on base between the fifth and eighth innings, while junior Rachel Byrnes pitched five scoreless innings after allowing Marietta to score in the fourth.
With the game knotted at four in the ninth inning, Becker took her place at the plate to deliver the walk-off win.
Head coach Nicole Loudin had only positive things to say about the stand out senior.
“I am so impressed with her and how she stepped up today,” said Loudin. “It is one thing to play well on senior day, but another to do it with that additional pressure, that shows a lot of maturity and focus.”
Becker knew the pressure was there from the beginning, but credited her teammates’ efforts to keep the Blue Streaks’ postseason hopes alive.
“We knew coming into the game that it was a sweep or be done situation and it took the efforts of every single player on the team to get the sweep today,” Becker said. “I can’t say enough about our pitchers and how well they have pitched for us this season.”
From that point, JCU had more than enough momentum to cruise past Marietta 6-1 in game two. Becker launched a third and final home run on her senior day in the sixth inning, while sophomore Gina Tosti dominated on the mound, only allowing four hits.
“Today, we went in with the mentality of controlling what we could control,” Loudin said. “We could control playing our game and winning two games so that was our focus.”
The softball team will kick off the OAC Tournament on Friday, May 2 against the No. 1 seed Ohio Northern University Polar Bears with a potential matchup with Marietta College or the University of Mount Union being the only thing between them and a potential NCAA Tournament berth for the second straight year.