Softball captures Horizon League crown
The Flames clinched a first-place finish in the Horizon League Sunday after beating Cleveland State, 9-4.
Flames Field will be the host site for the 2013 Horizon League Championship, which begins Wednesday and ends with the championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Flames will compete at 11 a.m. Thursday, facing Wright State.
“I am so proud of this team,” head coach Michelle Venturella said. “Their perseverance has been amazing throughout this season, so it was fitting that we won the way we did, coming from behind.”
Senior pitcher Devin Miller held Cleveland State to five hits. UIC compiled 14 hits on three Vikings’ pitchers. Miller improved her overall record to 22-14, including 15-3 in the Horizon League. She has won eight of her last nine games.
Senior Coryn Schmit paced the Flames with two hits and two RBI. Seniors Kara Komp and Melissa Preish, junior Jenna Marsalli and sophomore Erica Hampton each had two hits in the contest. Preish and Hampton each chipped in with an RBI.
Cleveland State’s Dara Toman led off the game with a solo shot over the left-field wall and just out of reach of UIC left-fielder Courtney Heeley’s reach.
UIC answered in the bottom of the second inning as Marsalli doubled, then junior Jacki Fletcher and Hampton each singled to load the bases. Heeley walked and earned the RBI to score Marsalli and tie the game at 1-1.
The Vikings scored three runs in the top of the third to put the score at 4-1.
The Flames battled back to a 4-3 deficit after Schmit hit a two-run homer — her sixth homerun of the season — in the bottom of the third inning.
The Flames limited Cleveland State to those four runs while they tacked on five runs in the bottom of the fifth and one in the sixth. Preish ignited the fifth-inning scoring spree with her seventh homerun of the season to tie the game 4-4.
Marsalli, pinch runner Cyndi Becker, Hampton and Fletcher each scored to give UIC an 8-4 lead in the fifth inning.
Pinch runner Alex Wyss scored the final UIC run in the bottom of the sixth to secure the win.