Senators drop 1-0 decision to AB in opener

VIENNA -If you love 1-0 pitching duels, then you should have attended Thursday’s opening-round softball game between Alderson Broaddus and Davis & Elkins in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Softball Tournament which began its three-day run on Thursday at Jackson Park.

AB’s Megan LaFon and D&E’s Amber LaBille hooked up in a classic, with the Battlers scoring the only run in the bottom of the fourth to advance to today’s 9 a.m. winner’s bracket game against top-seeded Trevecca Nazarene, a 5-0 opening-day winner over Ursuline.

Meanwhile, D&E later won its elimination game and will play another at 12:30 p.m. today vs. either Salem International or Kentucky Wesleyan, who meet each other at 10:30 a.m.

Neither pitcher in the AB vs. D&E game was willing to yield. In fact, neither yielded a walk, with LaFon recording seven strikeouts and LaBille whiffing five in a fast-paced 86-minute game that helped tournament officials -who spent the day battling inclement weather and wet fields -get in six of Thursday’s eight scheduled games as only one of the three fields at the Jackson Park complex was playable.

D&E, which came into the game as the No. 5 seed, mounted the first scoring threat of the game. In the top of the first, Ashley Dove singled with one and Danielle Norton did likewise with two away. But LaFon bore down and recorded an inning-ending strikeout to erase the threat.

AB (22-25) didn’t enjoy its first baserunner until Whitney Brown led off the third with a double. But she got no further than third thanks to LaBille recording a pair of strikeouts and inducing a popout, causing fans in attendance to wonder whether this might go on all night.

That didn’t happen. With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Kylee Gaspar singled to left, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Bianca Officer and to third on a single by Arial Cammin. Gaspar then managed to steal home for what would be the only run of the game.

The Senators threatened to tie the game in the fifth, with LaBille and Kaitlyn Daugherty recording back-to-back singles with one out. But again LaFon kept D&E off the boards, recording a fielder’s choice and a strikeout.

Although AB never threatened again, it wasn’t necessary. LaFon, recording her 18th win of the year, breezed through the final two innings.

Despite the opening game loss, the Senators (18-29) refused to bow out on the first day of the tournament and instead breezed past Ursuline in an elimination game, 6-1. Alanna Jones cruised through a 64-pitch effort, which should’ve been a shutout.

However, the Arrows (10-25) managed their lone run in the fourth when Alison Porter singled and eventually scored on an error.

Jones finished with a four-hitter, walked none and fanned three.

The Senators, who return to action in another elimination affair at 12:30 p.m. today against the loser of Kentucky Wesleyan and Salem International, played long ball to make things easy on Jones. D&E smashed a season-high three bombs, two against losing pitcher Sarah Maxwell.

In the top of the first, Dove reached with one out and although Katelyn Norton was retired on a liner to third, Danielle Norton launched a shot to center for a 2-0 cushion. Chelsie Stover opened the D&E second and on a 3-2 count lifted a foul ball that Ursuline left fielder Dagmar Smith watched hit the top of the fence three-fourths down the line. On Maxwell’s next offering, Stover crushed a no-doubter to left for a 3-0 advantage.

The Senators tacked on three more in the sixth for good measure. Kayla Whoolery hit the third home run, a solo shot, for a 4-0 lead. The shot by the shortstop also went off the top of the fence in left field, ironically where the Ursuline banner was, and bounced over.

LaBille followed with a one-out triple and after Daugherty was plunked, Dove delivered a two-run double to left for the final runs of the game.