MARSHALL - Even with a 14-day delay from a finish to Game 1, Tuesday's Southwest Conference softball doubleheader between Marshall and Luverne at the Marshall Softball Complex felt like a marathon.
Originally scheduled for May 1, the Tigers and Cardinals got through 4 1/2 innings before lightning forced officials to suspend the game. And in the make-up date on Tuesday, the two teams went head-to-head in a battle of attrition, with Luverne eeking out a 5-4 Game 1 victory before Marshall won in a hit-filled, error-riddled 22-11 Game 2 decision.
"There was a lot of bizarre stuff out here tonight," said Tigers head coach Jack Houseman. "We couldn't play defense, they struggled with defense. We finally got some hits to drop (in Game 2), and it's been a long time since we had that."
Photo by Joe Brown
Marshall’s Kelli VanLeeuwe gathers up a fly ball for an out during Game 1 of Tuesday’s Southwest Conference doubleheader against Luverne at the Marshall Softball Complex.
Moving to 4-6 in the Southwest (5-12 overall), Marshall will find out its Section 3AA destiny today when seedings are announced.
Resuming Game 1 in the bottom of the fourth with a 4-2 lead, Marshall only managed one hit over the final four innings. With one out and Kelli VanLeeuwe at first base in the bottom of the fifth, Jessica Tubbs hit a single up the middle. VanLeeuwe went for third base, but was thrown out by the Cardinals' center fielder, hampering Marshall's scoring chance. Tubbs reached third base, but the Tigers couldn't capitalize as Katie Kaiser grounded out to end the scoring threat.
"That's been the story of our season," Houseman said. "We get close to something, but then we hit into a double play or something like that."
Luverne002 002 1-5 5 2
Marshall103 000 0-4 5 1
L-Ellen Dahl; M-Callie Graff. WP-Dahl. LP-Graff. HR: L-Dahl. 2B: L-Ashley Otten, Danielle Kneip; M-Brooke Louwagie, Kelli VanLeeuwe. LOB: L-9; M-5.
Marshall102 01(14) 4-22 19 5
Luverne402 003 2-11 10 10
M-Miranda Fischer; L-Ashley Olson, Ellen Dahl (6). WP-Fischer. LP-Olson. HR: L-Olson. 2B: M-Kelli VanLeeuwe; L-Olson, Dahl. LOB: M-7; L-7.
After a double by Danielle Kneip put runners at second and third for Luverne in the sixth, Mallory Edwards hit a weak grounder in front of home plate. After throwing the batter out at first, Marshall had to hurry a throw to home to prevent Paige Baker from scoring. Baker ended up running into the Tigers' catcher, VanLeeuwe, scoring a run in the process. As the ball sat in the backstop, Kneip capped off the calamitous play with the game-tying run. The umpires talked the play over, ruling both Luverne runners safe.
"The rule, I believe, is make an effort to avoid contact," Houseman said. "We said she didn't avoid contact, so there was some discussion about that. One ump said it was up the line, so there was no play. ... (Baker) smoked (VanLeeuwe) pretty good."
The Cardinals put up the game-winning run in the top of the seventh with a leadoff solo home run by Ellen Dahl.
Left with a sour taste in their mouths after Game 1, Marshall catcher Kelli VanLeeuwe admitted the Tigers wanted to get after the Cardinals in Game 2.
"There was a little bit of tension," VanLeeuwe said. "After a little bit, it got better."
Early on, Luverne looked to be in complete control in Game 2, taking a 4-0 lead after one inning. Marshall struggled in the opening frame with three errors.
The Tigers cut the deficit to 4-3 after the top of the third, thanks to runs scored by Brooke Louwagie and VanLeeuwe. But the Cardinals tacked on a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to go up 6-3. Emily Mortier hit an RBI single for the Tigers in the top of the fifth to put the score at 6-4.
Marshall needed to put together a comeback, but very little could prepare the team for what transpired in the top of the sixth.
In total, 20 batters went to the plate for the Tigers, with Marshall tallying 14 runs on seven hits. Miranda Fischer led the hit parade with a pair of singles, while Fischer, Kaiser, Brooke Louwagie, Hannah Wenker and Amy Welu each scored a pair of runs in the half-inning.
The Cardinals also aided the Tigers' run with seven errors in the sixth.
"I've never played in anything like that in an actual game," VanLeeuwe said. "It was nice to have that kind of inning.
"It was a good feeling because we finally got our girls to get their bats going. There were some errors on their side, but it was nice to get some confidence with sections coming next week."
Marshall put up four more runs in the top of the seventh to secure the double-digit victory. Brooke Louwagie crossed the plate six times in Game 2, while Fischer finished 3-for-6.
"It was nice to see (our offense hitting)," Houseman said. "Everyone contributed."
On Thursday, the Tigers close out the regular season with a Southwest Conference doubleheader against Worthington at the Marshall Softball Complex.