TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology softball team is set to make its return to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament for the first time since 2008 with Friday’s opening round contest against Bluffton University.
The No.3-seed Fightin’ Engineers (18-14) will take on the No.2-seed Beavers (24-14) at 10 a.m. at Anderson University’s Raven Field.
The winner of the opening-round game will move on to face the winner of 1-seed Anderson and 4-seed Transylvania, who will play at noon Friday. The winner’s bracket game is slated for 4 p.m. Friday, while the two loser’s bracket game is set for 2 p.m.
Saturday’s title game is set for 1 p.m. in the double elimination tournament, with the final game slated for 3 p.m., if necessary.
Rose-Hulman enters the field fresh off Saturday’s split with Manchester, highlighted by an 8-6 come-from-behind win in Game 1. The Engineers got four home runs from three different players in their final regular-season series, as sophomore Marissa Stout (Terre Haute, Ind./South Vigo), junior Carly Heibel (Fort Wayne, Ind./Lakewood Park Christian) and senior Allison Bowman (Fort Wayne, Ind./R Nelson Snider) all went yard, with Stout hitting a home run in each game.
Stout leads the squad with a .360 batting average to go along with seven doubles, four home runs, and 25 RBI. Her .605 slugging percentage is also a team-best and ranks fifth in the HCAC. Junior Jessica Ahlborn (Houghton, Mich./Houghton) adds a .333 batting average with eight doubles, three triples and three home runs to go along with 13 RBI, and Heibel is batting .330 with 10 doubles, five home runs and 20 RBI.
Heibel was named HCAC Hitter of the Week in the final week of the regular season for her performance when she went 13-for-21 (.619) with five runs scored, five doubles, a home run, seven RBI and a 1.000 slugging percentage.
Heibel also leads the Engineers on the mound, as she’s compiled an 11-4 record in 107.1 innings pitched. Her ERA of 1.83 ranks second in the HCAC and she’s struck out 43 batters in 2014. Sophomore Taylor Lockhart (Robinson, Ill./Oblong) is RHIT’s solid No. 2 arm, as she’s went 5-5 with a 3.87 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 67.0 innings pitched.
Bluffton last saw the field in a nonleague split with Capital (Ohio) April 23, winning the opener, 6-1, before falling in the nightcap, 5-0. Jess Kuzara (.423 BA, 12 doubles, five home runs, three triples, 39 RBI) and Brittany Baker (.365 BA, 14 doubles, three homes, 29 RBI) lead the Beavers at the plate, while Chloe Shell (11-7, 3.24 ERA, 61 strikeouts) and Emily Scupholm (9-3, 2.15 ERA, 35 strikeouts) have seen the most time in the circle.
The Beavers defeated the Engineers in the doubleheader in Ohio March 30, edging RHIT 4-3 in Game 1 before cruising to an 11-3, five-inning win in Game 2. Baker’s walkoff double proved to be the game winner in the opener.
The twin bill proved to be a hit-fest for both teams, as Bluffton recorded 21 hits while RHIT totaled 17 in the two games, led by three each from Heibel and sophomore Jett Bender (Monticello, Minn./Monticello).
Bluffton leads the all-time series with Rose-Hulman, 11-5.
Live stats will be available for Friday’s contests at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/rhit.portal
Admission to Friday and Saturday’s games is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and children under 11 are free. Rose-Hulman students with valid ID are also free.