Michalak and Scott Shine As No. 8 Express Split With No. 16 Mercyhurst North East
By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, OH---Ashlyn Michalak threw another gem in an 8-0 shutout win for the No. 8 Express in the first game against No. 16 Mercyhurst North East, but the Saints responded with a 6-4 win in the second game.
Game 1: No. 8 Owens 8 No. 16 Mercyhurst North East 0 (6 innings)
Michalak threw her second complete game against Mercyhurst North East in the span of a week, and the Express scored six times in the sixth inning to close out what was a close game up to that point.
In the fourth, Mercyhurst got a leadoff double from Kayleigh Milliman. After a groundout moved her up, Michalak struck out the next batter. Then, following a walk, Michalak snagged a liner back at her for the third out. The ball initially popped out of her glove, but she stayed with it to complete the catch.
Mercyhurst then stranded the bases loaded in the fifth against Michalak. The leadoff batter reached on an error by right fielder Melanie Iacoangeli. Michalak then got a grounder back to her in the circle, but no one covered first and it turned into a single. Following a sacrifice bunt, Butler picked up a grounder at first and threw home to get the second out. After another walk, Alex Puckly grounded out to third to keep the Express up 1-0.
The Express then added a single run in the bottom half. After Mareshah Scott had singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice, Michelle Hollister singled. On the play, a bad throw to first allowed Scott to score and make it 2-0.
Then, in the sixth, the Express racked up six runs on seven hits. It started when Olivia Reeder lined a two-run double to left field that made it 4-0. After Scott singled and stole second, Hallie Thompson's two-run triple made it 6-0. An opposite field RBI single from Hollister then made it 7-0 before Tabitha Britt singled to center. An error on the throw home allowed Hollister to score and end the game.
Scott was a terror at the plate for Mercyhurst's defense as she finished 3-for-3 with two runs and two stolen bases. Butler continued her recent hitting tear by going 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Reeder finished 1-for-2 with a run and two RBIs and Thompson was 1-for-2 with a run and two RBIs.
Michalak moved to 14-0 with the win. She allowed four hits and four walks while striking out seven. She lowered her ERA and WHIP to 0.83, and she has now struck out 144. Additionally, Michalak has now thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings.
Alex Puckly took the complete game loss for Mercyhurst. She allowed 11 hits, eight runs (six earned) and zero walks while striking out none in 5.2 innings.
Game 2: No. 16 Mercyhurst North East 6 No. 8 Owens 4
Mercyhurst scored five times in the first inning to seize control. The Express bounced back and trailed 5-4 late, but five stranded runners in the fifth and sixth innings gave the momentum back to Mercyhurst as they scored one in the seventh and walked away with a series split.
Lexi Sheets couldn't escape the first inning against the Mercyhurst offense. After two walks, two singles and a double, Kasey Graham relieved Sheets with the Express down 3-0 and runners on second and third. After giving up a two-run single to right, Graham got a flyout, a single and a fielder's choice groundout to end the inning.
Owens started to rally in the second. Butler doubled to right center leading off the inning before Alyssa Lassey singled on a bunt. Lassey was then caught stealing, but Butler came home on the throw to second to make it 5-1. After Reeder lined out, Scott singled through the left side and Thompson lined a double to left center to score Scott and make it 5-2.
In the third, the Express added another run when Barron's sacrifice fly scored Iacoangeli, who had singled, stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. The fifth inning saw a bases loaded walk by Aja Hall, but the Express stranded the bases loaded as Reeder lined out to third base.
In the sixth, the Express stranded runners on second and third when Britt lined out to short.
Graham had really settled into a groove on the mound allowing the Express to almost pull off the comeback. She faced just two over the minimum from the second through the sixth innings.
In the third, Hollister made an outstanding play in center to start an inning ending double play for Graham. With a runner on first, Allison Litz hit a pop fly to center that caught the wind. From second base, Hollister made a sliding catch and threw to first to double up the runner.
Mercyhurst would add an insurance run to make it 6-4 in the seventh. Butler singled with one out in the bottom half, but that's all they would get.
Sheets took the loss for the Express and fell to 8-2 this year, while Tyler Honard picked up the win for Mercyhurst. She allowed nine hits, four runs and three walks in 5.2 innings pitched. Puckly picked up the save as she relieved Puckly for the final batter (Britt) in the sixth.
Scott once again torched the Mercyhurst pitching staff. She finished 3-for-3 with a run and a stolen base. Butler finished 2-for-3 with a run and an intentional walk, and Thompson was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
The No. 8 Express are now 27-3 overall. They will take on Jackson Community College on the road Monday beginning at 3:30 p.m. The Express defeated the Jets 6-1 and 4-2 on April 2.
The loss for Owens snaps an 11 game winning streak. Additionally, the five first inning runs in game two snapped a 36 inning scoreless streak for the Express pitching staff.
Scott combined to go 6-for-6 with three runs and three stolen bases in the doubleheader, while Butler was 4-for-6 with a run and an RBI. Scott is now second on the team in batting average behind Iacoangeli with a .463 average, while Butler improved her average to .341.