Softball knocks off IUP, falls to Gannon in PSAC tournament openers
The Shippensburg University softball team was not supposed to be in this situation. The Raiders were picked to finish fourth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East Division Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
But that’s why they play the game.
The 2017 Raiders have defied expectations, finishing 26–21 in the 2017 regular season, grabbing a third-place finish in the East Division. The finish was good enough for a PSAC tournament spot, in which the team got the best of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) 5–4 in extra innings in SU’s first game, before falling to Gannon University 4–2 in the nightcap.
The Raiders received a career day from SU outfielder Tara Bicko, as she was locked in at the plate, delivering a career-high four RBIs against IUP. The Raiders trailed 1–0 in the first inning, before an RBI double by Bicko tied the game.
The Crimson Hawks got out to a 4–1 lead, before the Raiders rallied. In the top of the fifth inning, Bicko delivered a key blow — a two-run home run — to pull SU within one. The Raiders trailed entering the final inning.
In their last at-bat, the Raiders found some magic. The Raiders were an out away from elimination, before Bicko delivered a single to left field to tie the game at four. SU retired the Crimson Hawks, forcing the game into extra innings.
Once the game advanced to extra innings, SU was quick to jump on the opportunity. Chloe Collins — who has led SU all season with a .384 batting average — sent the first pitch she saw in the extra frame over the fence, to give SU the lead once again. It would be all the Raiders would need, as SU took the game, 5–4. Taryn Wilson earned the win, picking up her 12th win of the season. Wilson struck out a career-high 11 batters and retired 12 of the last 13 batters she faced.
With the win, the Raiders advanced to face Gannon University at 6 p.m. in the second game at the PSAC tournament in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. The Golden Knights got to Collins early, plating four runs in the opening frame.
Pitchers Wilson and Julia Tosti, came in and threw five shutout innings in relief of Collins, but the damage was already done.
The Raiders got their best chance in the fifth inning, after a leadoff single by Micaela Ghanayem. The bases were eventually loaded, and Kendall Geis hit a no-doubter that landed well foul of the left-field foul pole. A fielder’s choice ended the threat. The Raiders got on the board in the sixth and seventh innings, but SU’s rally fell short after it brought the tying run to the plate.
The Raiders, 27–22, will now face PSAC East Division rival Kutztown University in an elimination game Thursday. SU went 1–3 against the Golden Bears this season, picking up its lone win at home on April 15. First pitch is set for 10 a.m. in Quakertown.