Lady Owls’ last comeback cut short in wild elimination loss

— The William Woods University Lady Owls softball team finally ran out of rallies.

Center fielder Amber Getty hit a two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning and third-seeded Davenport University resisted one last comeback attempt by No. 2 William Woods to oust the Lady Owls from the Davenport bracket with a wild 16-15 victory Tuesday in the NAIA Opening Round.

The No. 19 Lady Owls — who used a stunning five-run rally in the seventh to send the game to extra innings — completed their season with a 40-17 record. William Woods, which started NAIA play with a 4-2 loss to host Davenport on Monday, had staved off elimination earlier Tuesday with a 9-1 win over No. 4 seed Huntington (Ind.) University.

No. 22 Davenport recovered quickly after the Lady Owls pushed the game to extra innings Tuesday. Second baseman Carli SanMillan drew a leadoff walk to start the Lady Panthers’ eighth. William Woods senior reliever Becca Schemmer then struck out catcher Debra Burton and appeared to be on the verge of getting out of the inning after first baseman Haley Obetts fouled out.

However, Getty — pinch-hitting for right fielder Kelly DuCharme — hammered a 2-2 pitch from Schemmer over the fence in right to put Davenport back on top 16-14. Schemmer ended the inning when she struck out left fielder Karli Myers.

The Lady Owls, though, weren’t ready yet for their season to be done. Sophomore right fielder Sydnae Hatton started the bottom of the eighth with an infield single. After freshman center fielder Hannah Campbell struck out, Hatton moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third when sophomore shortstop Shelby LeCuru grounded out to short.

With William Woods down to its last out, the Lady Panthers opted to intentionally walk junior first baseman Kacey Scharnhorst — who had already blasted a pair of three-run homers in the game. Senior left fielder Lindsey LeCuru followed by making it a one-run game when she legged out an infield single that allowed Hatton to score.

Scharnhorst represented the tying run at second, but sophomore second baseman Emily Murphy’s grounder forced out Scharnhorst at third to end the game and William Woods’ season.

Davenport gave an indication of the scoring outbreak to come when it put up four runs in the first. The Lady Owls were able to get half of that scoring back in their half of the first, making it 4-2 on Lindsey LeCuru’s RBI infield single and freshman designated player Alexi Cavins’ RBI bases-loaded walk.

William Woods took a one-run lead in the second when Scharnhorst supplied her first three-run homer, ripping a 1-1 pitch over the fence in right. The Lady Panthers then countered with three runs in the top of the third to take a 7-5 advantage.

The Lady Owls made it a one-run game in their half of the third on Hatton’s RBI sacrifice fly. However, Davenport threatened to turn the game into a runaway when it broke out for two more runs in the fourth and piled up five in the fifth to widen its lead to 14-6.

Scharnhorst offered a hint of hope for William Woods when she smashed her second three-run homer to left on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the sixth, reducing the Lady Owls’ deficit to five runs. After Schemmer worked around a pair of walks to strike out the side in the Lady Panthers’ portion of the seventh, William Woods rose up with its dramatic rally.

Shelby LeCuru came through with a two-run single with one out to bring the Lady Owls within 14-11. Two batters later, Lindsey LeCuru made it a two-run game with an RBI single. Murphy then reached on a fielder’s choice and Shelby LeCuru dashed home on the play to make it 14-13.

Junior catcher Macy Wierschem followed with a single through the hole at short to load the bases. Redshirt freshman pinch-hitter Brailee Schulte then coaxed a walk to force home Lindsey LeCuru with the tying run, sending the game to extra innings and giving William Woods another chance.

The Lady Owls, though, exhausted their comebacks after Getty hit her decisive homer in the top of the eighth for Davenport.

Scharnhorst went 2-for-3 with her six RBIs and two runs scored as William Woods amassed 15 hits and capitalized on four errors by the Lady Panthers. Lindsey LeCuru was also 3-for-6 with three RBIs and scored once, while Shelby LeCuru finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs and four runs scored.

Hatton went 2-for-4 with an RBI and scored twice, junior third baseman Caroline Sicht finished 2-for-5 and scored a run, while Murphy was 2-for-6 with an RBI.

William Woods senior starter MacKenzie Bowden suffered the loss, allowing eight earned runs on just five hits in five innings. Bowden (20-9) struck out nine and issued six walks. Schemmer also gave up eight runs — only five earned — on seven hits in three innings. She struck out one and walked one.

The Lady Owls committed five errors.

In its victory over Huntington earlier Tuesday, William Woods plated five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to stop the game on the mercy rule. Shelby LeCuru reached on a one-out error that allowed two runs to score and Lindsey LeCuru drew a bases-loaded walk to force home another run.

Wierschem was responsible for the last of the Lady Owls’ scoring in the inning when she crushed a two-run double to left-center with two outs.

William Woods picked up its first run in the second on Sicht’s RBI single, while Huntington (31-23) scored its lone run in the third to tie the game. The Lady Owls went in front to stay with a run in the fourth on Campbell’s RBI single.

Murphy responded with an RBI double and Wierschem knocked in a run with a single to account for William Woods’ two other runs in the fifth.

Wierschem went 2-for-2 with three RBIs and a run scored as the Lady Owls recorded 13 hits. Murphy finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and scored two times, while Scharnhorst was 3-for-3 and scored once.

Campbell went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Lindsey LeCuru finished 2-for-4 and scored once.

Schemmer (13-8) threw a three-hitter in going the distance for the win. She gave up an unearned run, struck out two and walked two.

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