SAULT STE. MARIE - Almost four years to the day (April 24, 2012) marks the last home time Lake Superior State hosted softball games in Sault Ste. Marie, until favorable weather allowed for the final weekend of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season to be played at Locey Field for the Lakers, starting with Friday's (April 22, 2016) doubleheader against Ohio Dominican. In front of nearly 200 people in attendance the Lakers (5-33, 1-21 GLIAC) kept up with a Panthers squad that has 10 more games of experience on the season.
LSSU wasted no time in opening up the scoring in the bottom of the first inning in Game 1. In fact, a Teryn Williams single scored Taylor Steinhelper, who had reached on a single and stole second, just two batters into the lineup. After a Lindsey Pajot double moved Williams to third, junior Carly Banchiu hit a hard ground ball to the shortstop to drive in Williams. Katey Hendershott (2-for-3) then singled to right field to cap the rally and drive in Pajot for the third run of the inning.
The Panthers scored one run in the top of the second inning to cut the score to 3-1.
The Laker lead stayed strong through two scoreless innings until a grand slam by Casey Murdoch in the top of the fifth put ODU ahead by two runs, a lead they would not relinquish.
LSSU closed the final three innings with one hit and had one batter reach on an error, while ODU added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning to close the game with a 6-3 final.
Abby Lamping (W, 10-8) outdueled Riley Durbano (L, 3-12) to lead ODU to victory as both pitchers went seven innings and picked up two strikeouts each. Lamping allowed six hits and two earned runs (one unearned) and Durbano allowed five earned runs (one unearned).
The Panthers, batting in the bottom half, controlled the second game from start to finish after Kelsey Albanese responded immediately with RBIs each time the Lakers would cut the ODU lead to a single run. Albanese finished 4-for-4 to lead ODU with three RBIs and a run scored in Game 2.
Pajot singled home Steinhelper to open the top of the third inning and cut the lead to 2-1. However Albanese dropped a perfect bunt single in the bottom of the third to score Taylor Kline (3-for-4, three runs scored) and put ODU ahead by two runs, 3-1.
Again Pajot drove in a run in the top of the fifth inning but Albanese responded with a two RBI single to right to put the Panthers up 5-2.
Kylie Durre drove in Hendershott in the top of the sixth inning to again cut the lead but the Panthers put the game out of reach with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and Murdoch finished off her three-inning save after allowing two hits to open the top of the seventh inning.
Haley Earl (W, 2-2) earned the victory with four innings pitched, allowing just one earned run. Freshman Alyssa Thayer (L, 1-12) pitched the complete game and struck out three batters.
The Lakers close the season by hosting the Tiffin Dragons on Saturday, April 23 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at Locey Field. Admission is free and the LSSU Office of Campus Life will provide a free cookout, beginning at 12:45 p.m. The games will also be the last for the LSSU softball program after it was announced that the program would cease operations following the 2015-16 season.