WOODBURY — Playing its fourth and fifth games in three days, the Stillwater softball team emerged from Wednesday’s doubleheader with a sweep of East Ridge in Suburban East Conference play.
The Ponies blanked East Ridge 3-0 in Game 1 and followed that up with a 7-4 victory in the nightcap.
Stillwater (9-2 SEC, 9-2) was scheduled to face conference frontrunner Forest Lake in a doubleheader on Thursday, but that was postponed until Saturday because of rain. The Rangers, who have not lost this season, are the defending conference champions and have advanced to state each of the past five years.
“That will be a big series,” Stillwater coach Bob Beedle said. “They’re a very good team and they hit the ball, so we have to see if we can match up with them.”
Stillwater 7, East Ridge 4
A five-run fourth inning helped the Ponies take charge in Game 2 and Rachel Hartwig threw 2-plus innings of hitless, scoreless relief to help Stillwater complete the sweep. Rachel Rhode, who improved to 4-0 on the season, started and allowed four runs — just one earned — on three hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings.
“They were both really tight game games,” Beedle said. “They have solid defense and are well coached so we were happy to get out of there with two wins.”
The second game came complete with rain showers, but Stillwater poured it on with five runs in the fourth.
Carlie Hart and Haley Balzart each delivered two hits for the Ponies, who also received a solo homer from Hartwig in the fourth to grab a 2-1 lead.
East Ridge 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 — 4 3 4
Stillwater 1 0 1 5 0 0 x — 7 7 2
WP: Rachel Rhode (4-0) 4 2/3-ip, 3-h, 3-r, 1-er, 0-bb, 1-so
LP: Michaela Anderson 3 1/3-ip, 7-h, 7-r, 6-er, 3-bb, 4-so
Leading hitters: St, Carlie Hart 2×4 (RBI), Haley Balzart 2×4 (RBI), Hannah Heacox 1×4 (2B, 2 RBI), Rachel Hartwig 1×1 (HR, 2 RBI) and Natalie Ingram 1×1.
Stillwater 3, East Ridge 0
Hannah Heacox gave up just two hits in the complete game shutout and also provided the difference at the plate while crushing a three-run blast in the third inning to plate the only runs in a crisply played opening game on Wednesday. It was the first-ever over-the-fence home run for Heacox, who is batting .393 this season.
Lauren Jordan singled to start the third for Stillwater and Carlie Hart bunted her to second base before Haley Balzart drew a walk to set the stage for Heacox.
“There was no doubt on that one, a bomb hit to left-center,” Beedle said.
The Ponies rapped eight hits, but also stranded runners on second and third and the fifth and sixth innings.
Heacox (4-2), who lowered her ERA to a paltry .16,, allowed one walk and struck out 11. The senior has given up just one earned run — four overall — in 43 1/3 innings this spring.
“She pitched great, another shutout,” Beedle said.
Stillwater 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 — 3 8 0
East Ridge 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 3
WP: Hannah Heacox 7-ip, 2-h, 0-r, 0-er, 1-bb, 11-so
LP: Kelsey Ihns 7-ip, 8-h, 3-r, 3-er, 1-bb, 8-so
Leading hitters: St, Heacox 2×3 (HR, 3 RBI), Rachel Hartwig 3×4, Natalie Ingram 1×3, Natalie Gerber 1×3 (2B) and Lauren Jordan 1×3.
Contact Stuart Groskreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org