It appears as if 2011 will bring about a more promising result in the A-Sun tournament, as the softball team currently stands at 16-8 after four tournaments worth of play and a busy time on the road. The Bears took three of five games at the Kennesaw State tournament and split games in the rain-shortened Georgia Tech “Buzz Classic” before a split with UConn and sweep of Samford at Sikes Field.
The Bears start conference play Saturday, March 19. Their lone non-conference matchups for the remainder of the season are against Auburn (April 6) and Georgia State (April 19).
Mercer 8, Sav. St. 0
The Bears added to their winning streak against the lowly Tigers in a 14-hit game for the women in orange and black. Kassie Bailey picked up her first win of the year for Mercer as freshman centerfielder McKenzie Woody would go 5 for 7 with two RBIs and five stolen bases. Sara Stukes would also show the power of her bat, finishing the game with two hits and four RBIs.
Mercer 18, Sav. St. 0
Six players had multiple hits in an even more lopsided contest against their I-16 opponents. Kristin Marko and Allison Jones would both slug home runs in the five-inning rout of the Tigers, the 24th win for Mercer in the all-time series against their easterly rivals.
Kennesaw St. Tournament
For three busy days of softball, Mercer came out with three wins and only two loses in an early test against a mixture of big schools and mid-major opponents. To start the tournament, Mercer won a close contest over Mississippi State 6-5 before defeating Tennessee State 6-1. In blowout fashion, the Bears also disposed of the Bowling Green Falcons 13-0 in five innings. However, their run of success would fall short against Ball State (8-1) and Purdue (7-4) in the final two games of the tournament. The big win against Bowling Green would give Jenni Holtz the seventh win of the 2011 season as she struck out five and only allowed one hit.
GT Buzz Tournament
Returning to Atlanta the next weekend for the Georgia Tech tournament, Mercer recorded two games in the books: a 8-0 win over Austin Peay and a 4-1 loss to Boston University before inclement weather canceled the final two days and three games for the Bears. The multitalented Randi Rea went 1-2 with four RBIs to lead Mercer in a quick contest over the Lady Govs before a lack of offense would lead to Mercer’s demise against their opponent from the Northeast.
Mercer 4, UConn 0
Kari Chambers struck out 12 batters in the complete game shutout of the Huskies to start the two game homestand. Kassie Bailey provided the spark the offense needed with a two-RBI effort as Mercer scored three runs in the second inning to make the difference.
UConn 4, Mercer 3
The Bears rallied behind pitcher Jenni Holtz, scoring runs late, but ultimately couldn’t come from behind in the team’s third loss of the season to the Huskies. Sarah Santana hit her first home run of the season after a breakout 2010 season in the fifth inning to give the orange and black hope, but UConn would prevail in the nightcap to even the series at 1-1.
Mercer 6, GA. Southern 1
Finishing the first of a doubleheader before rain moved into the forecast in Statesboro, Mercer made the most of their trip down I-16 as Kari Chambers surrendered only two hits and one earned run to the Eagles. Despite only five hits on the night, MU made the most of their base runners, scoring two runs in the second, third and sixth innings.
Mercer 9, Samford 0
Another short contest due to Mercer piling on the runs during the first inning gave Chambers a quick and efficient four-inning outing to pick up her seventh win of the year. Kristin Marko (1-1, 4 RBI) had a monster home run along with Sara Stukes and Randi Rea for the blowout win.
Mercer 8, Samford 6
A walk-off home run from up-and-coming star Randi Rea helped Mercer capture both games in the series against the Bulldogs. Going into extra innings, Jenni Holtz allowed a run at the top of the eighth inning, but after Sara Stukes and McKenzie Woody got on base Rea would bring the crowd to its feet with a resounding slam to seal the game for Mercer.