March 15, CLERMONT, Fla. – The Bethany College softball program (1-1) opened the 2014 regular season, splitting a pair of games at the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla. The Bison notched a 2-1 victory over Hope College behind a stellar pitching performance from Kiersten Conwell (Washington, Pa./Chartiers Houston), before falling 8-1 to Otterbein University in game two.
In game number one, the Bison fell behind early, as Hope notched a run in the top of the first. With runners on first and third and just one out, Conwell was able to wiggle out of a jam, allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly, to keep the game close at 1-0 after one.
Both pitching staffs would keep the game at the same score until the bottom of the fifth inning when the Bison would knot the score. Marissa Bosley (New Martinsville, W. Va./Magnolia) would kick the inning off, reaching first on an error by the Hope third baseman. Three batters later, junior Jessica Kusnierz (New Castle, Pa./Shenango) would double to left field, plating Bosley to knot the game at 1-1.
After holding Hope scoreless in the top of the sixth inning, the Bison would strike again. Sophomore Kayla Kelly (Pasadena, Md./Institute of Notre Dame) led off the frame with a triple to right field and was immediately brought in by Emili Garretson (Winfield, W. Va./Winfield) to give Bethany the 2-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Conwell would work a perfect half inning to seal the win for the Green & White, earning her first complete game of the season.
Offensively in game one, the Bison were led by Kelly and Bosley who each notched a pair of hits in the game. Kelly totaled two extra-base hits, which included a double and a triple. Garretson and Kusnierz also added a hit and RBI apiece, while Deanna Mihalco (Patterson, N.Y./Brewster) notched one hit.
Conwell was solid on the mound for the Bison, allowing just three hits and one earned run while striking out three over seven full innings of work.
In game two, the Bison ran into solid pitching, as they were held hitless in an 8-1 loss to Otterbein. The Cardinals captured two runs in the first, added one run in both the second, third and sixth innings and totaled three runs in the fourth to notch their eight runs.
Kusnierz scored the lone run for Bethany in the top of the sixth off the bat of Kelly.
Despite the Bison giving up eight runs, the Bethany pitching staff still pitched well, as the combination of Kelsey Bish (Landisville, Pa./Hempfield) and Kadie Kelly (Royal Oak, Md./St. Michaels) allowed just three earned runs over six innings of work. Bish got the start, allowing two earned while striking out three over four innings.
The Bison will be back in action on Sunday, when they compete in two more contests. The Green & White will start the day with Amherst at 9 a.m. before taking on Endicott at 11 a.m.