COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College softball team worked some late bat magic and pushed itself right into the thick of the Centennial Conference playoff chase with a huge sweep of visiting Muhlenberg on Tuesday.
The Bears (14-12-1, 5-4) scored 10 of their 12 runs from the fourth inning on, overcoming deficits in both ends of the twin bill to post 7-2 and 5-4 victories. Ursinus trailed 4-0 in Game 2, but put up three runs in the bottom of the fifth and held off a pair of late charges by the Mules to move into third place in the conference standings.
Freshman Mackenzie Brennan and senior Kayla Quinn each registered a pair of multi-hit games for the Bears, who saw senior Gabrielle Manto and head coach Sam Campo reach major milestones in the opener. Manto notched her 100th career hit, while the 7-2 decision gave Campo her 100th career victory as Ursinus skipper.
Game 1: Ursinus 7, Muhlenberg 2
Manto's century hit was a big one, as the senior tripled down the line in right field with one out before coming home just ahead of the tag at the plate on a grounder by sophomore Amanda Ladzinski and tying the score at 1-1 in the second.
Muhlenberg (18-16, 3-9) went back in front in the fourth on Kristin Oberg's two-out RBI single, but the Bears had their response ready in the bottom half. Quinn smacked a leadoff triple over the head of the right fielder and waltzed home on Manto's sacrifice fly. After a single by Ladzinski and a fielder's choice, senior Sammi Donato and Brennan recorded back-to-back infield singles to load the bases. Sophomore Megan Hasulak laced a base hit into left-center to score senior Callie Crouse with the go-ahead run, though Donato was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.
Sophomore Morgan Comfort ignited a two-run fifth, as Quinn brought her to the plate with a single up the middle and scored herself on Ladzinski's sharp knock into center.
Ursinus tacked on two more in the sixth courtesy of an RBI single by senior Samantha Garritano and an RBI groundout by Quinn.
The late explosion was more than enough support for junior Jennifer Hammons, who improved to 7-7 with another complete game. The right-hander allowed two runs on eight hits, striking out six to just one walk.
Brennan finished 3-for-4 in the leadoff spot and was joined in the multi-hit club by Hasulak (2-for-3), Comfort (2-for-4), Quinn (2-for-4, two runs, two RBI), and Ladzinski (2-for-3, two RBI).
Game 2: Ursinus 5, Muhlenberg 4
Things looked bleak for the Bears after Kristina Qualben staked Muhlenberg to a 4-0 lead with a towering two-run homer in the top of the third.
But Ursinus gradually chipped away, scoring in each of the next three innings to go ahead. Quinn got the hosts on the board with a two-out RBI double in the third, and Hasulak's groundout with the bases loaded made it 4-2 in the fourth.
The Bears took control for good with a three-run fifth highlighted by a series of clutch two-out hitting. With runners on the corners and two down, Garritano lined a single just in front of the right fielder to make it 4-3, and Donato tied the game by slashing a base hit over the shortstop's head. After working a 10-pitch at-bat, Brennan put Ursinus on top to stay with a single that just barely dropped over the head of the second baseman.
All of the Bears' offense came against the Mules' top pitcher, who came in leading the CC in strikeouts and wins.
The Mules, however, had golden opportunities to tie the game – or more – in each of the last two frames. They had runners on first and third with no outs in the sixth before running themselves out of a rally, as a delayed steal resulted in the trail runner being safe at second, but the lead runner was thrown out at the plate for the first out. Freshman Kayla McTamney, who relieved Comfort in the third, got a groundout and a lineout to Donato in right to escape the jam.
Muhlenberg again put runners on the corners with just one away in the seventh, but came up empty. A grounder to short accounted for the second out as the runner at third stayed put, and McTamney got the next batter to pop out to sophomore Heather Lazer at second for the sweep.
McTamney was sensational in relief, tossing 4.2 scoreless innings; she allowed four hits and two walks with one strikeout.
Quinn went 2-for-2 with an RBI and run, while Manto and Brennan each had a 2-for-4 night.
The Bears host No. 10 Moravian in a non-conference doubleheader on Thursday.