HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Ursinus College softball team jumped out to a big lead in Friday's Centennial Conference tournament elimination game, but Swarthmore took the lead in the seventh inning and staved off a big Bears rally to keep its season alive with a thrilling 6-5 victory at Haverford.
With the loss, Ursinus (20-19-1) saw its breakthrough campaign come to an end, but not before the Bears reached 20 wins and made their first playoff appearance since 2012 despite being picked last in the CC preseason poll.
The Bears got on the board first – and in a big way to boot – thanks to some help from the Garnet defense. Lazer singled and stole second with one out, then moved to third on a groundout by senior Callie Crouse. Freshman Ally St. Jean drew a walk to leave it up to senior Sammi Donato, who bounced what appeared to be an inning-ending grounder to short. But Swarthmore failed to get the force as the throw to second got away, allowing Lazer to score and keeping the inning alive.
Brennan made the Garnet pay a steeper price, driving a two-run double over the head of the left fielder, and Hasulak ripped her second consecutive double into the gap in left-center to make it 4-0 and chase Swarthmore starter Maddie Bowe.
Despite a potentially devastating turn of events, the Garnet came firing right back to tie it in the third. Laura Hirai and Marit Vike led off with back-to-back triples, and Mika Maenaga made it 4-2 with an RBI single up the middle. A walk and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with no outs, and a sacrifice fly made it 4-3.
The Garnet still had runners on second and third with only one out, but the Bears nabbed the lead one in a run-down and got out of the inning with the lead still intact after a lineout to senior Kayla Quinn at shortstop.
After combining for seven runs in the span of two half-innings, neither team could plate another run for an extended stretch as Ursinus freshman Kayla McTamney and Swarthmore's Gwen Glatz settled into respective grooves. McTamney allowed just one base-runner over the next three frames, and Glatz did well to work around four more errors by her defense to strand several Bears in scoring position and keep the deficit at one.
Ursinus was just three outs from victory before it all came unraveled in the seventh. A couple of infield singles to open the inning, plus an advancement by both runners on throw, put the Garnet in business. The Bears tried to cut down a run at the plate on a ground ball, but Hiari got in ahead of the throw to tie the game. A dropped fly ball in the outfield allowed Swarthmore to seize a 6-4 lead, though junior Jennifer Hammons managed to escape with a bases-loaded, one-out jam with no further damage.
Down to its last licks, Ursinus nearly pulled off an incredible comeback. Sophomore Morgan Comfort dropped in a bloop single and stole second, then took third on a one-out error – the Garnet's sixth of the game. After Manto stole second, Lazer was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Crouse put a great swing on the ball, but her rocket line drive was right at the right fielder, though it was deep enough to plate Comfort and move Manto to third as the tying run. Senior Samantha Garritano came in to pinch-hit, but grounded out to second to end the game.
Seniors Crouse, Faith Carson, Donato, Garritano, Gabrielle Manto, and Kayla Quinn all played their final game in an Ursinus uniform, capping a strong collective career. Donato, Manto, and Quinn all eclipsed 100 hits during the season, while Crouse and Garritano each fell just a couple of knocks short.