Diplomats Take Two from Chargers

WILLOW STREET, Pa. – The Franklin & Marshall softball team's offense went on a tear on Friday afternoon in non-conference action, beating Lancaster Bible College (LBC) 16-6 in five innings in game one before blanking the Chargers 8-0 (Six innings) in game two of the doubleheader. The Diplomats' record improved to 9-5, while LBC fell to 1-9.

In game one, F&M struck early when Malorie Sassaman hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Alicia Kukoda in the bottom of the first to give the Diplomats a 1-0 lead. F&M got on the scoreboard again in the bottom of the third when Caitlin Brust singled to center field to score Sassaman and Kukoda and increase the lead to 3-0.

In the following frame, the Chargers' Richelle Kane hit a double to left field to score Kathryn Ritter and cut the Diplomats' lead to 3-1. Nicole Valinteno then laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Kane while a throwing error scored Emily Lloyd to tie the game at 3-3.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, F&M's offense exploded as a Rachel Laufer singled that scored Megan Ryan and Kaitlin Zampino gave the Diplomats a 5-3 lead. After a Liz Middleton RBI-grounded put F&M up 6-3, Caroline Abin belted a three-run homerun to center field to increase the lead to 9-3.

In the top of the fifth inning, LBC attempted a comeback as Ritter grounded out to second base to score Ali Morton and cut the lead to 9-4. After a Lloyd single scored Anna Harris to make the score 9-5, Kristen Hartline laid down a bunt to score Lloyd and make it a four-run game at 9-6. 

The Diplomats extended the lead in the bottom of the fifth as Laufer singled to right field to score Sarah Kirk and Ryan to give F&M an 11-5 advantage. Abin then ripped a double to center field to score Laufer and make it a 12-5 contest. Later in the inning, with the bases load, Brust smacked the ball over the left field fence for a grand slam that forced the mercy rule as the Diplomats won 16-6.

Brust finished game one with three hits and six RBI's for F&M, while Abin and Laufer added two hits and four RBI's each. Justine Lohrey (5-0) scattered five hits through four innings to earn the victory.

In the nightcap, the Diplomats scored early again, this time in the bottom of the second inning when Zampino crushed a two-run homerun to left field to put F&M ahead 2-0. Kirk then doubled down the left field line to score Laufer to increase the lead to 3-0. 

After the Chargers were held scoreless in the top of the third, the Diplomats got on the board again in the bottom of the inning as Zampino singled up the middle to score Sassaman and give F&M a 4-0 advantage. Laufer followed with an RBI-single to make it a 5-0 game before Ashley Hartshorn grounded out to score Kelly Van O'Linda and put the Diplomats up 6-0.

Later in the game, in the bottom of the sixth, Brust singled home Abin for a 7-0 lead and Laufer sealed the victory with a single down the right field line to make the score 8-0 and force the mercy rule.

Zampino led the offense with two hits and three RBI's for F&M, while Laufer added two hits and two RBI's. Zampino and Ryan combined to hold LBC to just two hits, as Ryan (3-1) earned the victory, pitching four innings and striking out four batters.

The Diplomats return to the diamond tomorrow when F&M opens Centennial Conference (CC) play at Washington. The first game of the doubleheader is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. start.