WESTMINSTER, Md. – A series of timely hits and quality pitching powered Franklin & Marshall to a 3-2 victory over top-seeded McDaniel on Friday afternoon in the first game of the Centennial Conference (CC) Softball Playoffs. The Diplomats improved to 15-20 with the win in the program's first appearance at the CC Playoffs, and will pick up action again tomorrow in the tournament's winner's bracket.
The host Green Terror were first to score, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second thanks to a leadoff home run by Taylor Hishon. The following McDaniel batter reached on a single, but F&M starter Izzy Schaefer settled down to keep the deficit at one.
The Diplomats evened the score at 1-1 in the fourth as Lexi Piccinich singled with one out. She was replaced on the base paths by Gabby Goodwin, who advanced to second on a passed ball before scoring on a single to right field by Katie Wenger with two outs.
Schaefer continued to hold the Green Terror, allowing F&M to take a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth. Wenger came through with another two-out RBI, plating Taylor Long after beating a close play at first on a single to second base. Kelly Van O'Linda followed with a sharp single through the left side, scoring Megan Ryan to extend the lead to two.
Schaefer continued to fool the McDaniel batters, inducing three ground balls to Long at shortstop for a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth. After a scoreless top of the seventh, the Green Terror opened the home half with two singles. However, the next batter flew into a double play as Ryan made a catch in right. Her throw to third was unable to stop the runner on second from advancing to third, but Erin Russell's throw back to Long at second beat the runner tagging up from first base and gave the Diplomats a 9-5-6 double play.
An error allowed the ensuing hitter to reach first base with the score moving to 3-2, but Schaefer finished her complete-game gem with a looking strikeout to clinch the win for F&M.
Schaefer moved to 10-11 on the year after allowing one earned run on seven hits in seven innings of work.
Wenger led the way with two hits and two RBIs, while Van O'Linda, Long, Piccinich, and Sam Clemens also added base knocks.
The Diplomats now await the winner of today's 4:00 p.m. game between No. 2 Washington and No. 3 Gettysburg. If that game is completed, F&M will take on the winner at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. If that game is stopped due to weather, that game will be completed at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. After that game is completed, the losers of games one and two will play, followed by F&M taking on the winner of game two.
Update: Gettysburg's win over Washington means that the Diplomats will return to action tomorrow against the Bullets at 1:15 p.m.