Flames Upset Michigan State and Indiana

Sophomore Laura Swan registered two doubles and two RBI on Saturday.
Sophomore Laura Swan registered two doubles and two RBI on Saturday.

March 15, 2014

UIC 4, MSU 3 Get Acrobat Reader

UIC 10, Indiana 9 Get Acrobat Reader

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The UIC softball team (5-12) came away with two big wins on Saturday to close out competition at the Hoosier Classic. The Flames defeated Michigan State, 4-3, before coming back to take down Indiana, 10-9, at Andy Mohr Field. Sophomore Laura Swan led UIC with five hits on the day, followed by junior Paige Peterson and sophomore Dana Capocci with three hits apiece.

"We are really proud of the effort from our team today," head coach Michelle Venturella said. "We had two great games that challenged us in many areas and it was great to see us maintain our composure and get the wins. This was an important step that we needed to take before conference starts."

Game 1: UIC 4, MSU 3

UIC came back in its first game against Michigan State after being down three runs in the fourth inning. Senior Natalie Hernandez, Peterson and Swan all produced two hits as the Flames outhit the Spartans, 8-5.

For the second time this weekend, Hernandez led off the game with a single but was left on at the end of the first inning. In the second, Swan singled to left but was out on the next play on a fielder's choice.

With two outs in the bottom of the third, Peterson tripled down the right-field line before senior Jacki Fletcher was walked. Senior Jenna Marsalli then stepped to the plate and hit a shot to right center, but a diving catch prevented the run from coming in.

The Spartans got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when their first baseman Sarah Gutknecht hit a solo shot to left to lead off the inning. Two more runs would later score after a collection of two singles, a walk, a sac fly and a fielding error on the Flames.

With the lead-off spot in the bottom of the fourth, Swan produced her second hit with a double to left center, then moved to third on a sac bunt by junior Erica Hampton and scored UIC's first run on a sac fly by freshman Rachel May.

Senior Courtney Heeley singled up the right side to start the bottom of the fifth, followed by an infield single by Hernandez and a bunt by Peterson to load the bases with no outs. Fletcher then doubled to center to score two and tie the game, as Peterson came in with the final run off a sac fly by Swan to take the lead and the win.

Sophomore Bridget Boyle started on the mound and went 3.1 innings, allowed four hits and struck out three before sophomore Alice Fitzpatrick came on in relief in the fourth inning. Fitzpatrick picked up her first win of the season after pitching 3.2 innings, allowing just one hit and shutting out Michigan State the rest of the game.

Game 2: UIC 10, Indiana 9

Indiana proved to be a challenge for UIC from the start, as there were four lead changes and one tie, but the Flames' production at the plate allowed them to go ahead in the fourth inning and ultimately take their first win over the Hoosiers since the 2010 season. UIC outhit IU, 16-12, and had nine different players contribute to its total.

The Flames went up early on the Hoosiers as it posted three runs in the top of the first. Peterson singled up the middle and back-to-back doubles by Marsalli and Swan scored two, and Swan came in after Hampton singled to go up 3-0.

Indiana rallied in the bottom of the inning after a single brought in two runners, who reached on a walk and a double. Another walk and two-consecutive singles would allow two more runs to score and the Hoosiers to take the lead.

UIC came back to tie it in the second after Capocci singled, advanced on a fielding error and scored on a Hernandez double. The Flames put runners on in the third after a pair of singles by Marsalli and Swan, but no runs would score.

The Hoosiers retook the lead in the bottom of the third after runners reached on a single, fielder's choice, another single and a walk before one came in on a throwing error by UIC.

In the top of the fourth, the Flames reclaimed the lead after Heeley singled down the left-field line and Hernandez reached on a fielder's choice, with Heeley advancing on an IU error. Both runners eventually scored on a single to left by Fletcher.

Continuing into the fifth, UIC added on another after Hampton reached on a single and made it to second on a fielding error before scoring on a stand-up double by freshman Kelly Kennedy. Capocci singled to right to move Kennedy to third, but both runners were left on at the end of the inning.

After both teams went three-up, three-down in the sixth, the Flames went on to add three insurance runs in the seventh. After Swan collected her third hit of the day and Kennedy produced her second, both came in to score after Capocci hit her first career double down the left-field line. Capocci then scored the Flames' final run while Heeley reached on an error.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Hoosiers tried to make their comeback, scoring three, but their efforts fell short.

Boyle received the start and went 2.1 innings before freshman Elaine Heflin took the mound in the third to go 4.2 innings and finish the game with three strikeouts, including the key last out of the game, for the win.

The Flames will now head into Horizon League competition with their first series against Cleveland State in Cleveland, Ohio, scheduled to begin on Saturday, March 22, with a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. CT, and conclude on Sunday, March 23, with the final game set for 11 a.m.