NAPLES, Fla. - The Rockford University softball team continues to improve with each game this season as the Regents played their best two games so far this year. However, the Regents were unable to come out on top in either as they fell 5-2 in the opener to Bridgewater State and then lost 4-0 to Clark University.
In the first game of the day against Bridgewater State, Rockford took its first lead of the season with a run in the top of the first inning. Stefaney Kenworthy (Veedersburg, Ind.) began the hit parade as she laced a one-out single into center field. Brooke Burris (Galatia, Ill.) then crushed a double into left center as the Regents had runners on second and third with just one out. One batter later, Brittany Bihun (Schaumburg, Ill.) singled into left field scoring Kenworthy and giving Rockford a quick 1-0 lead after one inning of play. However, the lead did not last long as the Bears responded with two runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 2-1 advantage.
The game remained 2-1 until the top of the fifth inning when Rockford knotted the game at 2-2. Taylor Pilarczyk (Chicago, Ill.) drew a leadoff walk to jump-start the RU offense. After a sacrifice bunt moved Pilarczyk to second, Kenworthy crushed an RBI double into left center field to tie the game heading into the bottom half of the fifth inning. Unfortunately similar to earlier in the game, Bridgewater responded right back with a run in the bottom half of the inning to retake the lead at 3-2. One inning later, the Bears extended their lead to 5-2 with a pair of unearned runs thanks in part to a Rockford error and some questionable umpiring. The Regents had one final chance to tie the game in the top of the seventh but were unable to string together a rally.
Stefaney Kenworthy tossed her second complete game in as many starts. The senior fired six strong innings allowing just three earned runs. Kenworthy also led the Rockford offense going 2-for-3 at the plate with a double, a run scored and an RBI.
In the second game of the day, Clark scored all four of their runs in the first inning. The Cougars took advantage of three Rockford errors to score their four runs, three of which were unearned. As has been the case all season long though, the Regents continued to fight and battle despite being down early. Rockford loaded the bases in both the second and seventh innings but were unable to come up with a clutch hit. In the second, Rockford loaded the bases off a Cougar error, a Caitlin Eiben (Racine, Wis.) single and a walk. However, the Cougars struck out the next two batters to end the threat. In the seventh, the Regents loaded the bases with two outs following a hit batsman, a walk and a Kenworthy single. This time however it appeared as though the Regents would break through as Burris slapped a ground ball between first and second, but the Cougar second baseman made an excellent diving stop to record the final out and secure a 4-0 win.
RU sophomore pitcher Brooke Burris was sensational inside the circle for Rockford. Burris threw her first complete game of the season allowing just one earned run off four hits while striking out two. The sophomore baffled the Cougar hitters all game long as she retired 13 straight batters from the bottom of the first through the end of the fifth inning.
The RU softball team returns to the diamond on Tuesday, March 7 against Elms and Geneva. First pitch begins at 9 AM Eastern Time.