AURORA, Ill. - The Rockford University softball team (4-22, 0-10 NACC) returned to action on Tuesday, as the Regents hit the road for a pair of Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference games against the Aurora University Spartans (14-12, 5-3 NACC). Although Rockford fell 11-0 and 7-0, the Regents continued to play hard and gave the Spartans a fight in game two.
The Spartans controlled the opener from start to finish, as they scored in every inning. Aurora jumped out to an early lead with four runs in the first and then sealed the 11-0 win with a four-run fourth. Most of the excitement for the Regents came in the fifth inning when, with one out, freshman McCathran Andrew (Rockford, Ill.) roped a single into the left to break up AU starting pitcher Hannah Tomasko's bid for a no-hitter.
Rockford's bats did however come to life in game two, as the Regents had multiple scoring opportunities and tallied nine hits over the seven innings of play. Unfortunately Rockford was unable to come up with a key hit as the Regents left 11 runners on base and were shutout for the second time of the day.
Rockford's first chance to get on the board came in the second when Sammi Russell (Winnebago, Ill.) and Shannon LeGath (Sturtevant, Wis.) strung together back-to-back two-out singles to put runners on first and second. The Regents would then load the bases following a Spartan error; however, Aurora was able to wiggle out of the jam to keep the game tied at 0-0. The Spartans then responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame to grab a 2-0 lead heading into the third.
With Rockford still only trailing 2-0, the Regents had another excellent scoring opportunity in the top of the fourth. Freshman Sammi Russell once again led the charge with a one-out single into center field. She then worked her way into scoring position by advancing to second via a passed ball. Two batters later, Abigail Wellwood (Rockford, Ill.) laced a single into right to put runners on the corners with two outs. Wellwood then used her speed to swipe second base to give Rockford a pair of runners in scoring position. However just like in the second, Aurora was once again able to work its way out of the jam and hold onto the 2-0 lead. The Spartans would then add to their lead in the bottom half of the inning with a single run to make it a 3-0 game heading into the fifth.
The Regents again put a runner into scoring position as Gretchen Schrubbe (Elgin, Ill.) led off the fifth with a single through the left side of the infield. Schrubbe was able to work her way to second with two outs to give her team another chance to chip away at the Aurora lead. Unfortunately once again, the Spartans were able to retire the next batter to maintain their 3-0 advantage. Momentum then began to swing heavily in favor of Aurora in the bottom half of the inning, as the Spartans scored four runs off six hits to extend their lead to 7-0.
Despite the large deficit, Rockford continued to fight hard and put multiple runners on base in each of the final two innings. In the sixth, it was Sammi Russell who jump-started the RU offense when she smacked a double into right center, for her third hit of the game. Shannon LeGath followed with a single into right to put runners on the corners with only one out. Rockford would then load the bases for the second time in the game after a groundout and an Emily Johannes (Eau Claire, Wis.) walk. Unfortunately Aurora slithered its way out of the jam to maintain its 7-0 lead heading into the final inning. The seventh also got off to a great start as each of the first two batters each base, Alex Storey (Dexter, Mich.) via an error and Brittany Bihun (Schaumburg, Ill.) via a single, to put runners on first and second with no one out. However as was the case for the entire game, Aurora was able to record a fielder's choice for an out, and then get the final two outs of the game off a double play to preserve the win.
Rockford had a trio of players tally multi-hit performances in game two. Sammi Russell led the way going a perfect 3-for-3 with a double. Shannon LeGath also had a nice day at the plate, turning in a 2-for-3 performance. Gretchen Schrubbe was the final Regent with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4.
The RU softball team returns to the diamond on Thursday, April 19 at home against Mount Mary. First pitch is set for 3 PM at the Smith Athletic Field.