ROCKFORD, Ill. - The Rockford University softball team (2-10) faced off against the Beloit College Buccaneers (3-13) on Thursday evening for its home opener. Each game was closely contested and could have went either way. In game one Rockford fell to Beloit 4-3 in extra innings before rebounding well in game two to come away with an 8-7 victory.
In game one it was Rockford that struck first as the Regents took an early 1-0 led in the bottom of the first. With one out, Allison Kaiser (South Elgin, Ill.) got things going for RU as she showed off her eye and earned a walk. Kaiser followed up the walk by showing off her speed as proceeded to steal second. Kaiser continued to make her way around the bases as she advanced to third on a pop out giving Rockford a runner on third with two outs. RU caught some luck as Sammi Russell (Winnebago, Ill.) was able to reach first base on a throwing error by the shortstop that would score Kaiser.
It did not take long for Beloit to answer as the Buccaneers scored two runs in the top of the third to take a 2-1 lead. Rockford did its best imitation as it scored two runs in the bottom of fifth to regain the lead 3-2.
For RU it was Gretchen Schrubbe (Elgin, Ill.) who got it going for the Regents as she stepped up to the plate with two out and showed her poise as she crushed a triple into right field. Allison Kaiser kept the momentum going as she singled down the right field line and brought Schrubbe home to tie the game at 2. It was Brittany Bihun (Schaumburg, Ill.) who did not quiver at the plate as she came through with a clutch triple to left center that scored Kaiser and put Rockford ahead 3-2.
The Bucs were able to come away with a run of their own in the top of the sixth to knot the game at three apiece. Both teams were held scoreless in the seventh inning forcing extra innings. Unfortunately, there was only one extra inning needed as Beloit scored a run in the top of the eighth that was enough to come away with a 4-3 win over Rockford.
Gretchen Schrubbe led the way for the Regents as she went 3-for-4 with a triple in game one. Brittany Bihun and Allison Kaiser each did well chalking up an RBI, with Bihun having a nice triple of her own.
In game two it was Rockford who again got out to an early lead. Gretchen Schrubbe continued her solid performance from game one as she opened the bottom of the frame with a triple to right center. Allison Kaiser proceeded with a walk, and then stole second to give Rockford runners on second and third with no outs. Brittany Bihun did her part as she knocked in both runners with a double through the left side to give Rockford an early 2-0 lead.
The Bucs did their best to not get into an early deficit as they were able to get one back in the top of the second. However, Rockford continued its momentum from the first scoring one in the bottom of the frame to keep a two-run lead over Beloit.
With one out, Abigail Wellwood (Rockford, Ill.) smacked one back up the middle for a single. Wellwood capitalized on a pass ball as she took second with Linzy Keller (Rockford, Ill.) at the plate. Keller did well as her patience paid off, earning a walk and putting runners on first and second with one out. One batter later, Wellwood and Keller each advanced on a wild pitch by Beloit. Schrubbe showed her toughness at the plate as she wore a pitch and loaded the bases with two outs. With bases loaded, Allison Kaiser drew a walk for RU bringing in Wellwood and putting the Regents up 3-1.
Unfortunately, the Bucs did not surrender as they scored three runs in the top of the third to take a 4-3 lead over Rockford.
The Regents were not phased as they showed off their bats in the bottom of the fourth scoring five runs. Abigail Wellwood started off for RU as she opened the inning drawing a walk. With the next batter grounding out and advancing Wellwood to second, Katlyn Fiorucci (Machesney Park, Ill.) stepped to the plate with one out. Wellwood capitalized off a wild pitch as she advanced third with Fiorucci still at the plate. Fiorucci kept the momentum going as she drew a walk, placing runners on the corners with one out. It was freshman Gretchen Schrubbe again coming through for the Regents as laced a single back up the middle to move Fiorucci to second and bring home Wellwood. Next up, Allison Kaiser reached on a fielder's choice where unfortunately the lead runner was tagged out at third. Brittany Bihun who stepped to the plate for Rockford with two out and runners on first and second, was rewarded with a walk, as she loaded the bases. Sammi Russell wore the pitch to bring home Schrubbe and give the Regents a 5-4 lead over Beloit. Beloit opted to switch pitchers, but it would not pay off as McCathran Andrew (Rockford, Ill.) immediately crushed a ball and tripled to left center, earning three RBIs in the process.
After an impressive bottom of the frame Rockford took an 8-4 lead heading into the top of the fifth. Beloit tried its best for a rally of its own but was denied as the Regents hung on to come away with a well-earned 8-7 victory.
Allison Kaiser got it done on the defensive side as well, as she entered in the top of the fifth to end the Beloit rally and earn the save. During her time in the circle Kaiser allowed 3 hits, with no runs and 2 strikeouts.
Gretchen Schrubbe led the Regents in game two going a perfect 3-for-3. Schrubbe was a home run away from completing the cycle as she recorded a single, double and triple as well as an RBI. Allison Kaiser and Abigail Wellwood each went 1-for-2 in the game, while Kaiser also recorded an RBI. McCathran Andrew led the Regents with 3 RBIs and a triple, while Brittany Bihun added 2 RBIs and a double.
The Rockford University softball team returns to the field when it hosts Lawrence on Thursday, March 29. First pitch is set for 3 PM.