WESTMINSTER, Md. – The Ursinus College softball team showed off its resilience in both ends of Saturday's Centennial Conference doubleheader at McDaniel, and the Bears are back in the playoffs because of it.
After nearly overturning an 8-0 deficit in the opening game only to see a furious rally come up one run short, Ursinus roared back with a huge first inning and cruised to a 10-4 victory in Game 2, securing its first conference playoff appearance since 2012.
The Bears (19-17-1, 9-6) will complete a suspended game with Swarthmore on Sunday, with the winner earning the No. 3 seed and an opening-round date at No. 2 seed Dickinson. The loser of the contest, which will pick up with Swarthmore leading 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, will head to No. 1 seed Haverford.
Sophomore Heather Lazer smacked a two-run home run as part of a huge outburst in Game 2, which had the Bears ahead 7-0 after three innings in a role reversal from the opener. Freshman Ally St. Jean was 3-for-4 and joined three other players with two RBI in the nightcap, including sophomore Morgan Comfort (2-for-3, two runs, two RBI) and senior Gabrielle Manto (two runs, two RBI).
Game 1: McDaniel 8, Ursinus 7
The opener was a strange one, a shootout that eventually turned into a tension-filled pitchers' duel all in the span of a few innings.
All of the scoring was done in the first three frames, and the Green Terror did not cross the plate after the first. But an 8-run explosion in which they sent 14 batters to the plate was just enough to hold off a hard charge by the Bears.
Ursinus sliced the deficit in half in the second inning, using an error that allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base to kick-start a crooked number. Sophomore Megan Hasulak's RBI single through the left side made it 4-2 with two outs, and Comfort brought home two more with a double to center.
In the third, the Bears used five consecutive singles to tack on three more runs. Base hits by Lazer, sophomore Amanda Ladzinski, and senior Callie Crouse packed the bags for senior Sammi Donato, who singled up the middle to make it 8-5. Freshman Mackenzie Brennan's base hit to right scored another, and Hasulak made it a one-run game with a sacrifice fly.
Surprisingly, neither side scored the rest of the way as Comfort and Krista Waller engaged in an exchange of impressive relief efforts. Comfort allowed just three hits over 5.2 scoreless innings, while Waller surrendered three hits over 4.2 frames.
Ladzinski finished 2-for-4 and scored twice, while Brennan, Hasulak, and Comfort each drove in a pair of runs.
Game 2: Ursinus 10, McDaniel 4
All of a sudden in a battle for their playoff lives with McDaniel needing only a win to clinch a berth, the Bears put the game mostly out of reach right away. Brennan and Hasulak each singled and stole a base to put runners on second and third for Comfort, who delivered an infield single to plate the opening run. A fielding error allowed another run to score before St. Jean came through with a two-run single to left to make it 4-0.
The Bears added on three more in the third courtesy of an RBI single by Manto followed by a two-run homer off the bat of Lazer, the sophomore's second of the season and third career round-tripper.
McDaniel put up a two-run homer in the bottom half, but the Bears tacked on one in the fourth and two in the fifth to nail down a long-awaited return to the postseason.
St. Jean led the way at the plate with ample support from Comfort, Manto, and Lazer. Brennan had two hits and scored twice out of the leadoff spot.
Freshman Kayla McTamney gave up a pair of home runs but was otherwise effective in improving to 6-3 on the year. She allowed four runs on five hits with two strikeouts and zero walks.
The Bears will find out their playoff destination on Sunday after the completion of their game with the Garnet. Swarthmore takes a two-run lead into the bottom of the fifth, but Ursinus will have runners on first and second with no outs when play resumes.