No. 12 Express Fall To Muskegon Despite Allowing Only Two Hits
By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Battle Creek, MI---The No. 12 Express softball team faced a stiff test in their Region XII District G tournament opener on Wednesday, and they lost 2-0 to Muskegon CC as one bad inning and one bad call at home plate decided the game.
In the first inning, Muskegon put runners at third with one out thanks to a fielding error, but Express starter Ashlyn Michalak struck out the next batter. Following a walk and a steal, Michalak struck out the final batter to end the threat.
Melanie Iacoangeli then singled to lead off the Express half of the first. After being sacrificed to second, she advanced to third on a wild pitch. However, Sydney Barron and Allison Hausch struck out to end the threat.
Over the next two innings, Muskegon's only runner reached via a second fielding error from the Express, while the only runner for the Express was via a double from Iacoangeli with two outs in the third. Both runners were stranded, however, and the game was scoreless entering the fourth.
In the fourth, Michalak couldn't find the strike zone as Muskegon plated two runs despite only getting one hit. Following two walks to leadoff the inning, the Express caught a break when both runners tried to advance, but the runner at third overslid the bag and was tagged out.
With one out and a runner on second, Michalak walked the next batter before both runners then advanced on a wild pitch. A 4-3 groundout then scored the first run before Muskegon's first hit - a single - scored the second run. Michalak then got the next batter to fly out to end the inning.
In the sixth, the Express had a chance to cut into the lead or tie the game, but were foiled in part due to a tough call at home plate. After Michelle Hollister led off with a double, Iacoangeli beat a throw to first for a single. On the play, Hollister rounded third and slid home headfirst - appearing to easily beat the throw. However, the umpire called her out.
Instead of being down 2-1 with a runner on second and no outs, the Express had a runner on second, down 2-0, with one out. Iacoangeli then advanced to third on a passed ball, but Jaylee Glad grounded out to second and Hannah Morrison struck out to end the inning.
Each team then went 1-2-3 in the seventh to end the game.
The Express had four hits compared to only two for Muskegon, while Iacoangeli's 3-for-3 game allowed her to individually out hit Muskegon.
Michalak (17-3) took the complete game loss. She allowed two hits, two runs and four walks while striking out seven. Aside from the fourth inning, Michalak only allowed one hit and one walk.
Katy Burns allowed four hits while striking out 10 to pick up the win for Muskegon.
Iacoangeli raised her batting average to .556 with her three hit game. She picked up her fourth double of the season, as well.
The Express will now have to battle their way through the loser's bracket. They will take on Grand Rapids CC at 12 p.m. tomorrow. Should they win that, they would take on the winner of the Jackson CC/Ancilla CC game at 2 p.m. Then, if they win that, the Express would take on the loser of the Kalamazoo Valley CC/Muskegon CC game at 4 p.m.
If they make it past those three games, they would then have to defeat the Kalamazoo Valley CC/Muskegon CC winner twice on Friday to advance to the NJCAA D-II National Tournament.