WILMINGTON, Ohio - The Wilmington College softball team came ever so close to defeating Muskingum University for the first time, but the Fighting Muskies edged the Fightin' Quakers 6-1 and 4-3 in nine innings in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) opener for both teams on Friday.
In game one, both teams had just two hits through five innings. Both of Wilmington's hits came in the second inning – a double from Allison Pierce and a single from Kaylee Barber – but could not score as a groundout ended the inning. Grace Shell and Rachel Eberling were locked in a pitcher's dual until the Muskies put together six hits to plate three runs in the top of the sixth. One inning later, Eberling helped her own cause with a three-run home run to put the game out of reach.
Wilmington's lone run game off a pinch-hit, RBI-single from Chandler Fields in the bottom of the seventh.
Shell took her first collegiate loss, allowing six earned runs and striking out four in 6.1 innings pitched. Mariyah Burkhardt pitched around two walks to finish the game.
Eberling improved to 6-1 with the win while also finishing 2-for-4 with three RBIs offensively. Krissy Hughes led Muskingum with four hits in as many at bats and two runs scored.
In game two, Muskingum tagged Wilmington starter Beth Persicano for three unearned runs in the bottom of the second and threatened to add to its lead in the sixth as the Muskies got two runners on, but a flyout ended the half inning. The Quakers gave their starter some run support in the bottom half of the frame as Je'Taysia Johns and Micalah Hensley walked. After a Pierce single, Alecia Kemp delivered a two-RBI single to get the hosts within a run. A Barber single with two outs tied the game two batters later.
Muskingum got runners in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings, but failed to score as Persicano and the Wilmington defense stranded a lead-off hit in each inning. A third lead-off hit in the ninth from Eberling was the charm for the Muskies, however, as she was singled home with two outs.
Trailing 4-3, Wilmington got the tying run to third base in the bottom of the ninth, but a strikeout ended the theat.
Persicano took the loss despite allowing just one earned run in nine innings with four strikeouts.
"All three young ladies that pitched did a great job for us on the mound," Head Coach Beth Floyd said. "I was extremely proud of Beth Persicano of throwing all nine innings in a hard-fought game. She came up with big outs when we needed them."
Hannah Duff got the win for Muskingum pitching 8.1 innings with six strikeouts.
Wilmington finished with eight hits including two from Pierce and Barber. Haylea Debolt and Jaelyn Meade each had three hits for the Muskies.
The Quakers (6-4, 0-2 OAC) travel to Albion College (Michigan) for a doubleheader on Sunday.