KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Franklin & Marshall softball opened the season with a pair of games on Sunday afternoon, dropping two close decisions to Illinois College (1-0) and No. 10 Rowan (7-4). The Diplomats now stand at 0-2 on the year.
F&M opened the day with a 1:30 p.m. game against Illinois College. After a scoreless first inning, the Lady Blues scored what proved to be the game's only run as a walk, a fielder's choice, and a sac fly assigned starter Izzy Schaefer an earned run despite holding the visitors hitless.
F&M threated by putting runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the third after a single up the middle from Kelly Van O'Linda, but the rally died without any runs for the Diplomats.
Schaefer settled down, eventually conceding her first hit of the game on an infield single in the sixth, but Erin Russell caught the runner stealing moments later as F&M continued to trail 1-0. Russell then singled to start the bottom of the sixth and advanced to second with no outs, but was left stranded as two foul-outs ended the inning for the Diplomats. F&M was unable to muster any base runners in the seventh, and the Lady Blues escaped with a 1-0 victory.
Russell, Van O'Linda, and Ryan Correa accounted for the Diplomat offense as both teams finished with three hits.
Schaefer (0-1) took the loss despite giving up just one run, three hits, and one walk along with four strikeouts. Illinois' Mariah Hedges (1-0) earned the win with seven innings of work.
The No. 10 Profs of Rowan took charge early in the day's second game, pushing two runs across in the bottom of the first. A double and two singles followed an F&M error as Diplomat starter Katie Wenger surrendered a pair of unearned runs.
After a scoreless second, F&M responded in the third. Sam Clemens worked an infield single with two outs before Taylor Long blasted a double to left center, scoring Clemens and earning an RBI to make the score 2-1.
The Diplomats again started the fourth with runners in scoring position thanks to a double from Megan Ryan and an infield single from Sammy Burns, but were again unable to make the Profs pay as Rowan held a slim 2-1 lead.
Rowan added some insurance in the bottom of the seventh, pushing five across on Ryan, who had come on in relief of Wenger. The inning featured a bunt single, an error, and ultimately five runs as the Profs went up 7-1 entering the seventh.
F&M showed signs of life in the top of the seventh, starting with a single from Van O'Linda. Clemens knocked in Van O'Linda after Russell reached on an error, and Long and Burns both added RBIs to pull within three, but it wasn't enough as Rowan took a 7-4 decision.
Wenger (0-1) took the loss for the Diplomats, giving up six hits and zero earned runs in six innings of work. Ashley Lesch (2-0) earned the win for the Profs, who improved to 10-0 on the year.
Clemens, Long, and Burns both tallied two hits in the effort. Long also added a pair of RBIs.
F&M returns to action tomorrow, taking on Utica at 11:15 a.m. and Plattsburgh St. at 1:30 p.m.