Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Softball Splits Games at Georgia Tech Buzz Classic
J. Andrew Lockwood
Senior Editor / Columnist
You build experience quickly when you take on the best teams. At least that’s what Mercer head coach Mike Raynor was thinking when he decided to take his team to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech “Buzz Classic,” to take on Tennessee Tech, Ole Miss, Rhode Island, James Madison, and Seton Hall. Mercer would end up winning 3 of the 5 games including Raynor’s 100th win at the university against James Madison.
It was ultimately a tournament that would feature several pitcher’s duels and only a hint of offense. The Bears would be outscored 18-7 during the tournament, yet picked up keys wins in Atlanta.
Mercer 1 – Tennessee Tech 0
Facing the Eagles, a team they defeated two weeks ago, pitcher Jenni Holtz pitched a complete game shutout, striking out ten while giving up five hits in route to the 1-0 win. On the other side, TTU’s Holly Thomas only gave up two hits in her seven innings, but they were crucial to the Bears’ victory. In the fifth inning, outfielder Stacey Condra doubled, followed by sacrifice bunt from catcher Brandy Keeter. Leadoff hitter Holly Oglesbee’s single would score Condra and give Mercer the 1-0 win.
Ole Miss 11 – Mercer 0
After a close 1-0 contest against Tennessee Tech, the Bears were blown away by the Rebels in an 11-0 victory. Mercer starter Jessie Holmes would give up four runs on four hits as she lasted only two innings into the game. Natalie Jones, Molly Anderson, and Kerri Nidiffer all came in to relieve, but to no avail as the team could only muster two hits on the game. Meanwhile, starter Lindsey Perry would pick up the win for the SEC school while Aly Presswood and Cali Overbeck would put balls over the fence for Ole Miss. The game ended after the five inning run rule.
Mercer 1 – Rhode Island 0
Another tight ballgame saw the Bears come out on top after seventh inning heroics from several players. Playing small ball, the Bears offense helped push across a run in the bottom half of the inning to pick up another win for starting pitcher Jenni Holtz. Lilli Luke started the inning off with a single to centerfield before Megan Rutherford would move her over to second on a sacrifice bunt. Pinch-hitter Kristin Marko would single to right field before Holly Oglesbee moved Luke home on another single up the middle. The hit from Oglesbee would be the second game-winning RBI single from her bat in two days.
“I thought we played well,” Raynor said. “I thought Lilli had a good game with two crucial hits today and of course she scored the winning run as well. Holly did her job and drove in the winning run and Jenni pitched great and kept us in the ball game,” he added after the game on MercerBears.com.
Mercer 3 – James Madison 1
Jenni Holtz once again looked dominant in striking out ten batters and allowing only one run in Mike Raynor’s 100th win at the helm of the program. Mustering four hits apiece, Mercer was able to jump ahead of James Madison in the top of the third inning when Lilli Luke would hit an RBI-single followed by a pair of walks from JMU pitcher Cara Stecher to put the Bears up by three runs.
Mercer would leave seven runners stranded on base during the game, but a two run lead after the fourth inning was enough for another tournament win over the Dukes. Playing for Raynor for two years and now serving as an assistant coach, Page Raynor was glad to see her Dad get his 100th win, commenting, “I’m just proud of my dad and what he has done so far. It’s been great to be a part of it.”
Seton Hall 6 – Mercer 2
The final game of the tournament was a different story than the convincing win over James Madison as Mercer was shelled for 12 hits and 6 runs by the Pirates. Holtz started the game once again, but had trouble collecting outs and was replaced with Jessie Holmes after 3.2 innings. Kristin Marko an Stacey Condra were able to collect RBIs in the 5th and 7th innings, but the overpowering Pirates strung together runs in the first, second and fourth innings for the 6-2 win.
After the series against Furman was postponed to a later date due to weather, Mercer finds themselves traveling to Atlanta once more for the Georgia Tech Tournament in which they’ll face Georgia State, Georgia Tech, and Fordham.