Senior Rhea Flores (Dearborn Heights/Southgate Anderson) delivered in the clutch with a game-winning single in the top of the seventh inning as the Ferris State University softball team held on for a 6-5 win over the nationally 17th-ranked Saginaw Valley State Cardinals this Saturday (April 24) afternoon in the opener of a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) doubleheader at the SVSU Athletic Complex in University Center, Mich.
Rhea Flores, who registered three hits in four at bats for the contest, drove home sophomore third baseman Makenzi Peterson (Big Rapids) from second base with one out for what proved to be the decisive run.
The second inning alone resulted in a combined four runs by both teams as Ferris State jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top half of the frame. Junior outfielder Colleen Roney (Wheaton, Ill./Glen Ellyn Glenbard South) tripled in the first two runs with a hit to right center field and senior second baseman Amanda Harrington (St. Joseph/Stevensville-Lakeshore) followed with a RBI single to right field. The Cardinals answered in the bottom half of the second with a run on two hits to get within 3-1 through two innings of action.
Saginaw Valley State, which dropped to 23-9 overall and 10-7 in the GLIAC, tallied a pair of fifth-inning runs as the result of four hits off Bulldog freshman pitcher Dana Bowler (Lockport, Ill.) to tie the game up at 3-3. The score remained deadlocked until the top of the seventh inning when the Bulldogs broke loose for a three-run output on as many hits and a Cardinal error. Senior outfielder Rachel Wade (Canton) reached base on a fielding error by SVSU pitcher Lauren Memmer with one out and then scored an unearned run as a result of freshman Liz Hamming's (Hudsonville) mammoth pinch-hit two-run homer over the left center field fence, her first as a Bulldog, to give Ferris State a 5-3 lead. Makenzi Peterson followed with a single and advanced to second base to put another FSU runner in scoring position as the Cardinals turned the ball over to relief pitcher Kari Bowlby. Rhea Flores proceeded to notch the game-winning hit off Bowlby with a single to right field which scored Peterson. Bowlby was able to get the last two outs but the damage was already done.
In the bottom of the seventh innings, Saginaw Valley State got a rally going with a leadoff triple by Ashley Coffin and then a run-scoring double by Billi Hoeppner to make it a 6-4 ball game. The Cardinals then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move a Hoeppner over to third base before FSU turned to its bullpen as Rhea Flores came in to relieve Dana Bowler. Flores picked up her second save of the season as she was able to get Ashley Jordan to groundout which scored Hoeppener to pull the hosts within 6-5 before producing the final out when Jessica McKeith grounded out to the Bulldog relief hurler.
Ferris State, which is 21-14 overall and 12-7 in the conference to date, totaled 11 base hits and Saginaw Valley State had 10 in the slugfest.
Dana Bowler (7-8) went the first 6.1 innings and had seven strikeouts while allowing all of the Cardinals' 10 hits in the contest.
Joining Rhea Flores with multiple hits were Makenzi Peterson and junior catcher Rachel Mueller (Santa Clarita, Calif./Valencia) with a pair of hits apiece.