Softball advances to postseason play

Courtney Heeley

Courtney Heeley had four hits Sunday. Photo: Steve Woltmann

The softball team (14-26, 8-10 Horizon League) clinched the No. 6 seed in the Horizon League Tournament after defeating Oakland (16-23, 5-9 Horizon League), 10-5, in Game One of its doubleheader Sunday at the OU Softball Field.

The Flames fell in the second game, 9-8, but produced a total of 24 hits on the day.

The Flames will face the No. 3 Valparaiso in the opening round of the Horizon League Tournament at 10 a.m. today at the WSU Softball Field in Dayton, Ohio.

Through the two contests Sunday, Jenna Marsalli led all players with five hits, while Paige Peterson, Courtney Heeley and Kelly Kennedy each had four. Heeley, Marsalli, Laura Swan, Peterson and Kennedy had extra-base hits, with Swan bringing in the game-winning run off a triple in the first game.

In the first game, UIC produced its 10 runs through three innings off 11 hits. Marsalli went 3-for-4 and Swan, Peterson and Heeley recorded two hits apiece. Heeley hit a three-run homer and tabbed four RBI in the game, while Marsalli and Swan each tripled and combined for five RBI.

Marsalli led off the second with her second triple of the season.

After two outs, Kennedy walked and Heeley followed with her fourth home run of the season to put the Flames up 3-0. Oakland scored one in the bottom of the inning after a single brought in a runner at third.
With two outs in the third, Swan doubled for the sixth time this season before coming in on a single to center by Marsalli to increase UIC’s lead to 4-1. The Golden Grizzlies tied it at 4-4 in the bottom of the third off three hits and a Flames’ error, and pulled ahead 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth on one hit and two UIC errors.

The Flames had a big inning in the fifth after scoring six to take a 10-5 lead. Natalie Hernandez and Peterson reached to begin the frame before Jacki Fletcher singled to load the bases. Swan tripled for the first time this season down the left field line to clear the bases and was brought in on Marsalli’s third hit of the game. After Kennedy walked, Marsalli came around on a single by Heeley and pinch-runner Savannah Soppet scored on a Hernandez single.

Bridget Boyle received the start and went 2.1 innings before Alice Fitzpatrick came in to finish the game and collect her second win of the weekend. Fitzpatrick struck out four batters and improved her ERA to 3.92.

In the second game, the Flames never claimed the lead but battled back to come within one of the Golden Grizzlies.

Kennedy was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with two RBI, while Heeley recorded two hits and four RBI alongside two hits from Marsalli and Peterson.

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