COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – After a heartbreaking loss in a nine-inning marathon in the opener of Saturday's Centennial Conference twin bill with Gettysburg, the Ursinus College softball team rebounded to claim a 4-2 victory in the nightcap and a split of the Senior Day series.
Junior Kaitlyn Willis threw every pitch for the Bears (12-16, 4-6), who knocked off the Bullets (20-9-1, 7-4-1) for the first time since 2014. The right-hander was a hard-luck loser in a 5-2 Game 1 setback, but recovered from a 173-pitch effort to deliver an impressive victory in Game 2. Willis registered 11 strikeouts on the afternoon, including the 200th of her career.
Ursinus honored its lone senior, pitcher Devan Cinalli, before the games.
Game 1: Gettysburg 5, Ursinus 2 (9)
A matchup of two of the conference's top aces played out much as expected, with each team going scoreless through the first three innings. The Bears drew first blood against Bullets star Aileen Reilly, plating two runs in the bottom of the fourth. The first came when junior Rachel Hyman smoked a one-out double to the gap in left-center to score sophomore Faith Carson and, following a base hit down the right-field line by Willis, sophomore Callie Crouse hammered a fly ball just out of the reach of the Gettysburg center fielder to make it 2-0.
Willis got out of a jam in the fifth, but the Orange and Blue finally broke through in the sixth. After their first two batters were retired, the Bullets put two on with a single and a walk before pinch-hitter Mattea Ghaffary sliced a two-run double to left-center on a 3-2 count.
Both teams had base-runners over the next two innings, but neither could capitalize. Then came the ninth, where Gettysburg put its first two aboard via a walk and an error. Jamie Abell provided the go-ahead strike with a double to the left-center field gap, and a sacrifice fly by Meredith Taylor added a run. Sarahrose Jonik's two-out double scored Abell and handed Gettysburg a 5-2 lead.
Down to its last out, Ursinus brought the tying run to the plate following consecutive singles by sophomores Kayla Quinn and Samantha Garritano. But Reilly got freshman Marissa Beebe to bounce out to short to end a game that featured more than 300 pitches and lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours.
Carson (2-for-4, run), Quinn (2-for-4), and Garritano (2-for-5) all had multiple hits for Ursinus, which had four doubles among its nine hits.
Willis allowed three earned runs on ten hits in a career-high 9.0 innings, throwing 173 pitches – 106 of them for strikes. She struck out seven and walked three.
Reilly (9-5) struck out four and walked two in her own nine-inning marathon, surrendering nine hits.
Game 2: Ursinus 4, Gettysburg 2
Despite the incredible effort she expended in the opener, Willis came back even stronger in Game 2. She was much more economical, getting quick outs and working through the Bullets lineup efficiently on the way to another complete-game performance.
The junior navigated a number of potential land mines, stranding eight Gettysburg base-runners through the first four innings. Though the Bullets took a 1-0 lead in the second, they left the bases loaded in the first, had two on with no outs and a run already in the next inning, and had second and third with only one out in the fourth. Each time, Willis was up to the task.
The Ursinus offense came through for her with a three-run second off Morgan Clauser, who came in 11-2 with a 1.40 ERA. Sophomore Gabrielle Manto led off with a single, and walks to Hyman and Crouse packed the bags for Dewes, whose sacrifice fly to center knotted the contest at 1.
Quinn's single re-loaded the bases, and Garritano came up with a clutch base hit just past a diving Sofia Blasius and into right-center for a 3-1 lead.
Ghaffary's RBI single pulled Gettysburg within 3-2 in the fifth, but Garritano worked a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the sixth to make it 4-2. Gettysburg had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh before Willis induced a foul-out to catcher and clinched the split with a swinging strikeout.
Garritano finished 1-for-3 and drove in three runs for the Bears, who had eight players record a single hit.
Willis worked around ten hits and three walks to notch her 10th victory of the season. She struck out four, including the 200th of her career.
The Bears host Haverford in a CC doubleheader on Tuesday, April 18.