The Case Western Reserve University softball team began its trip to Florida with a pair of one-run losses on Saturday, as the Spartans were edged 2-1 by Wheaton College (Ill.) and 3-2 by Bethany College at the NTC Tournament in Clermont, Florida.
The losses dropped the Spartans' record back to 5-5 for the year, while Wheaton improved to 1-0, and Bethany moved to 1-1.
Game 1: Wheaton (Ill.) 2, CWRU 1
Wheaton did all of its damage early in the game on Saturday, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning. From there, junior pitcher Annie Wennerberg allowed just two more hits and three base runners the remainder of the game, despite taking the loss. Wennerberg finished the game with just two runs allowed over six innings on five hits and a walk, while striking out eight batters.
The Spartans pulled within a run on an RBI single from sophomore Grace Tritchler in the fifth. Representing the tying run, Wennerberg reached third during the inning, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a ground ball to second base. Case Western Reserve would end up stranding freshman Savi Medlang, who pinch ran for Tritchler, at third during the inning.
CWRU would get the potential game-tying run on base in both the sixth and seventh innings, but ultimately, would be unable to plate the equalizer in either frame.
Wennerberg dropped to 3-2 on the year with the loss, while Katie Thornton took the win for Wheaton, raising her season ledger to 1-0.
Freshman shortstop Nicole Doyle had two of the Spartans' six hits in the game, while sophomore centerfielder Katie Wede and Tritchler each went one-for-three with a stolen base.
Game 2: Bethany 3, CWRU 2
For the second-straight game on Saturday, the Spartans fell into an early 2-0. Bethany scored twice in the top of the first, plating runs on an RBI double from first baseman Deanna Mihalco and on a run-scoring single from catcher Marissa Bosley.
Case Western Reserve evened the score in the bottom of the sixth, opening the frame with a single from sophomore first baseman Maren Waldner, and a walk to Wennerberg. The following hitter, Tritchler, would drive in Walder with a base hit, and with one out in the inning, senior right fielder Kristen Klemmer drove in Wennerberg to knot the game at 2-2.
Bethany responded in the top of the seventh, scoring a run to regain the lead, 3-2. CWRU threatened again in the bottom of the seventh, putting the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base with one out, following a hit-by-pitch to Wede and a single by sophomore second baseman Lindsey Robinson, but again would be unable to tie the game.
Cassie Weiss earned the win in relief for Bethany, raising her record to 1-1, while Wennerberg suffered the defeat, her second of the day, to drop to 3-3.
Tritchler was two-for-three in the second game with an RBI, and Walder added a pair of hits in four at bats.
With the two one-run losses on Saturday, four of the Spartans five losses this season have been by two runs or less.
Next up for the Spartans will be the 2016 University Athletic Association Championships in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The team will begin play at the conference tournament on Tuesday, March 8th at 10:00 a.m. against New York University, and at 1:00 p.m. against Emory University.