May 5, 2013
CHICAGO - Loyola University Chicago (28-17, 16-5 Horizon) scored three times in the third inning and held on for a 4-2 victory over visiting Wright State (17-35, 10-11 Horizon) in the regular-season finale for both teams today at Loyola Softball Park. With the win, the Ramblers earned a share of the Horizon League regular-season championship, and will be the No. 2 seed in next week's conference tournament, which will be played at UIC.
A three-run third helped the Ramblers take control of the contest and Lauren Moore's single down the left field line with two outs brought home Olivia Bell, who had tripled earlier in the inning, to open the scoring. Loyola took advantage of some Wright State mishaps to score the final two runs of the inning, as Jessica Balzano scored on a wild pitch and Moore later scored on a Raider error to give the Ramblers a 3-0 advantage.
Wright State charged right back however and chopped Loyola's lead down to a run by scoring twice in the top of the fourth without the benefit of a hit. Pinch hitter Kacie Rapshus drove in a run when she was hit by a pitch with the bases packed full of Raiders and the very next batter, Jess Gorman, worked a walk from reliever Brittany Gardner to force in the second run of the inning. Gardner, who entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs, avoided even further destruction by striking out Hanna Floyd to end the inning.
Loyola gave Gardner some breathing room when it turned the tables on Wright State and scored a run of its own without the aid of base hit in the sixth inning. Brooke Andresen, who was playing in her final home game as a Rambler, provided a huge insurance run when her sacrifice fly to left scored Annie Korth to give Loyola a 4-2 advantage.
In the seventh, Wright State brought the tying run to the plate against Gardner, but a groundout to short and a liner to right slammed the door on the Raiders' rally and allowed Loyola to tie a school record for conference victories (16).
Andresen went 2 for 3 with a RBI and a run scored and that run now gives her sole possession of the Loyola career record (116). Bell also pitched in a pair of hits for the Ramblers, and Moore inched closer to the Loyola single-season record for RBI (44) by knocking in her 42nd run of the year.
Gardner was exceptional in relief, allowing only one hit in 3.1 innings to earn her 16th win of the season. Amanda Ciran battled control problems, but allowed only one hit in 3.2 innings, while collecting three strikeouts.
Loyola, which grabbed at least a share of the Horizon League regular-season title for the sixth time in the last 13 years, will be the No. 2 seed at the Horizon League Championship, which will be played at UIC, May 8-11. The Ramblers' first game will be at 1:30 p.m. on May 9 versus the winner of the Valparaiso/Youngstown State game.