Monday, March 29, 2010
Softball Stays Hot; Holtz Pitches No Hitter Against Campbell
J. Andrew Lockwood
Senior Editor / Columnist
Mercer’s softball team seems to be shaking a tough spring break week of softball with three quality wins in a pair of two-game series against Furman and Campbell. With a series victory against the Furman Paladins, Mercer snapped their seven game losing streak with 5-3 and 2-0 wins. The Bears followed up that series with a double-header split with Campbell that included a no-hitter pitching performance from Jenni Holtz.
Mercer’s first win in two and a half weeks came off a Kristin Marko homerun (4th of the season) in the top of the 8th inning as the Bears almost fumbled away the game in the bottom of the 6th inning. Pitcher Jenni Holtz held the Paladins scoreless for the first five innings of the game until a costly error put a runner on base for Furman. Two batters later, a homerun from Lana Mackey put Furman in prime position to win at home until shortstop Sara Stukes launched her own homerun to tie the game.
Mike Raynor’s team would late long to strike in extra innings with the Marko homerun, helping Holtz garner her tenth win of the season with a 12 strikeout, 2 hit and 2 earned run performance. The second game of the series saw junior pitcher Kari Chambers return from an injury earlier in the season to dominant form, striking out five and giving up two hits in five innings of work as the Bears worked to put two runs on the board in the third inning. Kristin Marko’s 3-for-3 day with an RBI helped Mercer plate a run in the low-scoring affair as Mercer’s Jenni Holtz picked up a save in two innings of relief work. For the weekend, Holly Oglesbee averaged .500 at the plate hitting a double and triple in aiding the Bears’ scoring efforts in Greenville.
With the reigning Atlantic Sun softball champions visiting Macon last weekend, Holtz would electrify Sikes Field with a huge 1-0 no-hitter to start to the two-game series. Pitching ten innings, Raynor’s squad would provide a run of support in the bottom half of the inning to upset the visiting Camels. The game-changing play occurred in the tenth frame when sophomore Stephanie Canara would steal home on a wild pitch from Campbell’s Christina Melton.
The pitching duel between Melton and Holtz shaped up to be one of the best matchups in conference play this season as Melton would only allow three hits on the afternoon, backed up by a defense that recorded a triple play in the fourth inning.
“That was huge,” commented Mercer head coach Mike Raynor after the game. “Throwing that kind of game against the defending Atlantic Sun champs is something special. She is so mentally tough out there and it’s great to watch her work,” he added on MercerBears.com.
Unfortunately, the second game of the series didn’t go Mercer’s way as they fell to the Camels 2-0. Kari Chambers, the starting pitcher, gave up two early runs in the first inning to ultimately decide the contest as the Bears squeaked out only three hits on the day. Campbell’s Brittany Stanley capped the three hit shutout by pitching only 81 pitches in route to her 6th win of the 2010 season.
With the first conference series of the year complete, Mercer now faces Samford in non-conference action before continuing A-Sun play against Kennesaw State. The Bears then return to Macon for an eight-game homestand against Georgia Southern, Lipscomb, Belmont, and Auburn.