Feb. 15, 2014
JMU 11, UIC 1
MTSU 3, UIC 2
ORLANDO, Fla. – The UIC softball team (1-8) came up short against James Madison, 11-1 (6), and Middle Tennessee, 3-2, on Saturday at the UCF Softball Complex during the second day of competition at the UCF/Holiday Inn Classic.
“We need to start seeing some consistency in all parts of our game,” head coach Michelle Venturella said. “We have given teams a lot of extra opportunities, which makes it difficult to win games. We saw some good things in our game against Middle Tennessee, so we are looking forward to building off of those in our game tomorrow.”
UIC could not keep up with James Madison in game one after the Dukes took an early lead and went on to end the game in six innings. James Madison scored right off the bat in the first following two walks and a double to drive in two runs and then added two more after a throwing error and a sacrifice fly. The Dukes continued into the second and scored two additional runs after a single to left and a throwing error.
While going scoreless the next three innings, James Madison came away with five runs in the sixth with two scoring on a fielding error, another two scoring after a fielder’s choice and double to left center, and the last run coming in after a single to left.
The Flames were able to bring in a run in the sixth as senior Jacki Fletcher led off with her third single of the game, with hits in the first and third to record her fifth-consecutive game with a hit and fourth multi-hit game of the season. Senior Jenna Marsalli then stepped to the plate and hit a double to advance Fletcher to third before senior Courtney Heeley ground out to first, allowing Fletcher to score.
Earlier in the game, junior Erica Hampton hit a triple down the right-field line in the second, with freshman Kaleigh Nagle earning a free base after being hit by a pitch, but the pair would eventually be left on base following two outs. Sophomore Laura Swan and junior Eleni Polites also contributed to the Flames hit total with their firsts of the season in the fourth and fifth, respectively.
Freshman Elaine Heflin pitched just one inning before sophomore Alice Fitzpatrick took over in the second, going on to strike out four batters in five innings.
UIC fell behind in its second-consecutive game as Middle Tennessee came out in the first inning to take two quick runs. After a sequence of a walk, a throwing error and a stolen base, the Blue Raiders brought in one on a sac-bunt and another following another walk and a bunt single.
Polites continued to perform at the plate as she led off the third with another bunt single and then stole her fourth base of the season before advancing to third on a wild pitch and scoring on a sac-fly by freshman Savannah Soppet to bring the Flames within one.
In the fourth, Marsalli recorded her fifth double of the season and second of the day on a shot to right center before advancing to third on a wild pitch and scoring the tying run following a sac-fly by Swan.
Middle Tennessee came back in the fifth and took the lead after a single and a double to left brought in a run. After another single, UIC prevented the Blue Raiders from scoring another after a pop-up, a run-down play at home and a ground out.
Senior Natalie Hernandez added a bunt single in the sixth and Hampton singled in the seventh with Polites reaching on a fielder’s choice, but the Flames would be left on base.
Sophomore Bridget Boyle received the start and went through six innings to allow seven hits and two runs while striking out two.
The Flames will conclude action at the tournament on Sunday, when they face James Madison for the second time at the UCF Softball Complex with the first pitch scheduled for 8:30 a.m. CT.