Courtesy of Midland Athletics
COLUMBUS, Ga. – In a tightly contested battle to start the 2023 NAIA Softball World Series, No. 10 Midland University fell to No. 7 Marian University by a score of 2-0. The Warriors outhit the Knights five to four but were kept out of the run column for just the second time all season.
Emily Prai came up just inches short of leading off the game with a base hit, but a diving catch by the center fielder kept the Warriors’ leading run-scorer off the bases. Roni Foote would record a double to get on base and then reached third as Carly Pfitzer recorded an infield single. With runners on the corners, the Knights were able to work out of the jam with a groundout to the pitcher and a foul out to third base.
Aliyah Rincon, who pitched a complete game in the circle, worked around a walk in the bottom of the 1st. A groundout advanced the runner to second, but back-to-back flyouts to Keira Painter in right field ended the inning.
Midland went down in order in the top half of the 2nd and then kept Marian in check in the bottom of the inning. The scoreless streak continued until the Knights were able to manufacture a run in the bottom of the 3rd.
With two outs, Marian got a single to center followed by a single through the right side to put runners on the corners. An attempted steal of second base drew a throw from behind the plate. The runner was safe on the play and the runner from third scored to break the deadlock.
The Warriors’ offense was able to get a one-out hit from Amanda Schmaderer in the top of the 4th but was kept in check with a fielder’s choice followed by a groundout.
In the 5th, Midland threatened once again. Alexis Page led off the inning with a double down the left-field line and then Mia Orduna worked a walk. Ariyana Crafton appeared to leg out an infield hit but was brought back to the plate as she was ruled out of the box on the bunt attempt. Crafton would battle but ended up popping out in foul territory for the first out.
Prai reached on a fielder’s choice, advancing Page to third with two outs. Marian escaped once more as they coaxed a foul ball down the left-field line that was able to be caught for the final out of the inning.
Marian was held in check in the bottom of the 5th, keeping the deficit at one run with two innings to play.
In the top of the 6th, Carly Pfitzer reached on a throwing error by the Knights’ third baseman and then stole second to get into scoring position. She was stranded on base as Marian got an infield popup followed by back-to-back groundouts.
The bottom half of the inning saw the Knights’ clean-up hitting leadoff the inning with a solo home run to make it a two-run game. Rincon struck out the next batter and after allowing a walk, she struck out two more to keep the game close.
Down to their final at-bat, Orduna hit a one-out single to right. Halle Meyer came on to run while Diana Nisbett was subbed in to pinch hit as the Warriors were looking for a spark. After a strikeout, Prai worked a walk to put the tying run on base with the dangerous Foote stepping up to the plate.
She connected on the first pitch of the at-bat but the ball sailed foul for a loud strike one. Her second swing was too far under the ball as she flew out to the shortstop for the final out of the game.
For the game, Midland had five hits with one error in the field while Marian had two runs on four hits with an error as well.
- Roni Foote: 1-for-4, 2B
- Carly Pfitzer: 1-for-3, SB
- Alexis Page: 1-for-3, 2B
- Aliyah Rincon: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 8 K
Midland (39-14) will look to rebound and keep its season going on Friday. The Warriors will take the diamond at 12:00 p.m. (CT) against the loser of the University of the Cumberland and the University of Science & Arts. Those teams face each other in the final game of day one in Columbus, Georgia.