The Belmont Bruins softball team lost to the Eastern Illinois Panthers 3-2 and 11-8 in two close matchups on Saturday during their Ohio Valley Conference home opener at E.S. Rose Park.
Although shortstop Ellison Ollinger made a throwing error in the top of the second inning, the Bruins managed to right the ship, preventing the Panthers from scoring any runs.
However, the Bruins’ defense began to waver in the top of the sixth inning, and thanks to an RBI from sophomore Haley Mitchell, the Panthers tied up the game. The Panthers managed to score another run in the top of the seventh inning, putting them in the lead.
The Bruins responded with a run scored by junior Sami Long, yet again tying up the game.
The Panthers emerged victorious against the Bruins after sophomore Megan Burton scored a run in the top of the ninth inning. The Bruins fought hard to stay in the game in the bottom of the ninth, but the Panthers excelled in the field to secure the victory.
Both teams had very strong starts in the second game. Mitchell scored a run for the Panthers in the top of the first inning, and the Bruins responded with a two-run homer from senior Jess Andree.
The Panthers managed to pull ahead in the top of the second inning thanks to junior Maria DeVito hitting the second two-run homer of the game, an RBI from Mitchell and run scored by junior Kayla Bear. Again, the Bruins responded fiercely, retaking the lead with an RBI from Cook and a hit from Thomas that allowed Freshman Georgia Mckee and junior Taylor Hargrove to score two more runs.
Mitchell managed to bat in two runs for the Panthers in the top of the third inning, and the Panthers kept their lead until the the bottom of the sixth inning, where the Bruins produced two runs to tie up the game. The tie was short lived, as the Panthers rallied in the top of the seventh to score three more runs and ultimately defeat the Bruins.
In game one, Rouse and Thomas each had one RBI while Lee was a standout on the infield with nine strikeouts. In game two, Andree and junior Hayley Baker led the Bruins in RBIs, each having two, and freshman pitcher Alicia Veltri managed to produce two strikeouts against the Panthers.
The Bruins came into the doubleheader with an impressive non-conference record of 19 wins and only 4 losses.
Belmont softball will continue conference play this weekend, traveling to Eastern Kentucky to face off against the Colonels on Friday with the doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m..
This article written by Drew Pearce, photos by Carina Eudy