Sunday, February 21, 2010
KSU Tournament Wrapup; Who is Sarah Santana?
J. Andrew Lockwood
Senior Editor / Columnist
It was another weekend and another tournament for Mercer’s softball team in Atlanta as they traveled up I-75 to participate in the Phyllis Rafter Memorial tournament hosted by Kennesaw State. The Bears posted a 3-2 record in their five games that stretched from Friday to Sunday including big wins against Tennessee Tech 9-1, Ball State 9-1, and Middle Tennessee State 8-4 in the finale.
One largely unanswered question from the past weekend is who exactly is Sarah Santana? Mercer fans quickly learned about the softball team’s other ‘Sarah’…Sarah Stukes who finished last season with a .299 average with 9 HRs and a team high 29 RBI. But it was Santana, a freshman from Valdosta, that impressed fans the most with a pair of homeruns over Ball State and another long ball against MTSU. In only four starts and fifteen at-bats, Santana has moved to the top of Mercer’s batting statistics, leading the team in batting average (.467), homeruns (3), RBI (12), and slugging percentage (1.133). We will undoubtedly be seeing more of the freshman phenom as the season continues.
Western Illinois 4 – Mercer 0
Mercer was shut out for the first time all season as they lost to Leathernecks in a lopsided affair. A first inning homerun courtesy of WIU’s Julie DePolo was the ultimate difference as starting pitcher Jenni Holtz suffered her third loss of the season, giving up nine hits and four earned runs in the process. Surprisingly, the Bears’ offense was silent for the night, mustering only five hits (two from catcher Emi Sherrill) and unable to push any runners across the plate. Leatherneck pitcher Kamren Ferguson (2-2) threw the complete game shutout while striking out six Bears in the process.
Mercer 9 – Tennessee Tech 1
Silence and then a drubbing? The Bears’ eight run win was most likely the result of a lineup change from head coach Mike Raynor as he started sophomores Lilli Luke and Stephanie Canara as well as the freshman Santana. Offensively, Emi Sherrill headlined this contest with two homeruns and four RBI to spearhead the Bears at the plate. With a five run fifth inning, Mercer pitcher Kari Chambers held TTU in check to improve to 2-0 on the year.
Mercer 9 – Ball State 1
Continuing their winning ways from the night before, Mercer’s Sarah Santana had a breakout game with two homeruns and five RBI on the day. Jenni Holtz (3-3) returned back to her usual form and struck out ten en route to another quick victory. Mercer would push across four runs in both the second and sixth inning to run-rule the Cardinals.
After the game, Raynor commented, “Our Jekyll and Hyde offense goes from feast to famine and today was an example of that. We seem to be right on the verge of breaking out and we have the talent to do just that.”
Southern Illinois 3 – Mercer 1
Just as the Mercer faithful thought the Bears were on a winning track, the Missouri Valley Conference school derailed the team’s hopes in a close game. Despite a rough outing for MU starting pitcher Kari Chambers, four hits wouldn’t muster enough offense to hold off the Salukis. Jenni Holtz would come in for 4.1 innings of relief, but a two-run homerun from SIU in the second inning would seal the game.
Mercer 8 – Middle Tennessee State 4
On the final day of the tournament, the Bears climbed over the .500 mark with another impressive outing against the Blue Raiders. Mercer’s Kristin Marko and Sarah Santana launched yellow balls over the fence to give the orange and black a commanding eight run lead in the sixth inning. Mercer would surrender four runs in the bottom half of the inning, but ultimately, the damage was done and the Bears picked up a big victory. Natalie Jones picked up her first win of the season after pitching four innings while reliever Kari Chambers surrendered four runs, but mustered enough to finish off the game.
Mercer now returns home for two doubleheaders against Florida A&M as well as in-state rival Savannah State before traveling to Montgomery, Alabama for a matchup with Alabama State.