FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Castleton softball team split a non-conference doubleheader on Friday, defeating Centenary (N.J.), 8-5, before falling to Marian University (Wisc.), 8-7, in 12 innings at the Century Link Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
Castleton is now 3-1 on the season, while Centenary falls to 2-7 and Marian improves to 10-2.
Sara Baker combined to go 4 for 10 on the day, scoring four runs and driving in one. Timi Carone had three hits across the two games, driving in three runs, stealing a base, and scoring once. Kayley Fountain added three hits and an RBI on the day, while Karli Theberge and Tori Swaine had two hits and two RBIs apiece.
The Spartans opened the day with their third consecutive win, knocking off Centenary with a three-run fifth inning to take the lead for good. Taylor Paquette earned her second win of the year, going 4.0 innings in relief, allowing just two earned runs. Theberge got her first career start in the circle, working 3.0 innings, allowing one unearned run and just three hits.
Baker was 3-for-4 in the contest, scoring twice. McKinlie Carpenter and Carone each added one hit and two RBIs for the Spartans. Sami Carlo was effective when called upon, laying down two successful sacrifice bunts that turned into multiple Spartan runs.
Centenary jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning, as a two-out double by Raychel Piserchia drove in a run. Piserchia pushed her luck to try and turn it into a triple, but was cut down at third base to end the inning. Castleton answered with a run of its own in the home half of the first, when a single and a walk gave the Spartans two on with two out. Swaine came through with an RBI double, scoring Baker, to level the game at 1-1 after one inning.
Theberge settled down in the second inning, working a quick 1-2-3 frame to bring the Spartans back to the plate. After Jordan Gouger made it to second base on an error and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Carlo, Carone reached on an infield error which allowed Gouger to score for a 2-1 Castleton lead.
Another quick inning by Theberge in the third gave Castleton a chance to tack onto its lead, but a botched double-steal and a fly out ended the Spartans' threat. Centenary continued to battle, retaking the lead in the top half of the fourth inning. A base hit and an error gave the Cyclones runners at the corners. An illegal pitch allowed Carolyn Clites to score, and moved Piserchia into scoring position at second base. A groundout moved Piserchia to third, before she scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2 Centenary.
Castleton tied it back up in the bottom of the fourth, however, as Gouger tallied a run-scoring single to bring in Emilee Teague. A sacrifice bunt by Carlo again moved two runners into scoring position, both of whom scored when Carone notched a two-out base hit, making it 5-3 Spartans.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the fifth inning, as Centenary got two runs back to tie the game. An RBI base hit by Ashley Eisenstein made it a 5-4 game, before a back-to-back hits by Clites and Piserchia tied the game. Clites tried to score from second on Piserchia's hit, but was gunned down at the plate to end the inning and preserve the 5-5 score.
Castleton regained the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring three times to take an 8-5 edge. The first five batters of the inning reach base via hit, walk or error, and the inning was capped off with a two-run single by Carpenter. Paquette set down the final six batters of the game in order, sealing the victory for the Spartans at 8-5.
Kayla Wood went the distance against Marian, working 11.1 innings, allowing eight runs, four of which were earned, on 13 hits and one walk with one strikeout. Carone and Fountain each went 2-for-5 in the contest with a run scored. Theberge drove in two runs.
The second game of the day was a pitchers' duel for the first seven innings, as neither side could get on the board prior to the extra frames. It took 12 innings for the game to finally be decided, as Marian walked off with a double in the home half of the inning.
Castleton got the first run of the game in the eighth inning, as Teague was placed at second base to begin the frame per international tiebreak rules. A sacrifice bunt by Briley Blackbird moved her to third base, before Carlo drove her in with a base hit. One run was all that Castleton could muster in the inning, giving Marian a chance to tie it in the bottom of the eighth.
The Sabres used a similar strategy, bunting the runner to third base to begin the inning, before an error allowed the runner to score. The Spartans managed to get out of a second-and-third jam, however, as Wood limited the damage in the eighth, prolonging the game once more.
Castleton tacked on another run in the ninth inning, as Baker moved to third base on a wild pitch after beginning the inning on second base. A sacrifice fly by Swaine brought her home, giving the Spartans a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the inning. Once again Marian found a way to push the run across, using a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.
After a scoreless 10th inning by both sides, Castleton came out in the 11th and put up four runs to take a commanding lead. Carlo began the inning on second base, and moved up to third on a bunt single by Carone. A squeeze play brought Carlo in to score, and moved Carone to second base with just one out. Baker then clubbed a double to score Carone, making it 4-2 with just one out and a runner on second base. A single by Fountain scored Baker, and Fountain came in to score later in the inning on a base hit by Teague, making it 6-2.
Marian battled back again, however, matching Castleton run-for-run. After a sacrifice bunt to begin the inning, the Sabres used three consecutive hits to score a pair of runs to halve the deficit to 6-4. A two-out walk loaded the bases for the No. 9 hitter, who came through in the clutch with a two-run double to once again tie the score. A pop out ended the inning, sending the game to the 12th.
The Spartan bats remained ready, as with two outs and a runner at third, Theberge drove in the go-ahead run with a base hit. That was all Castleton managed in the inning, taking a 7-6 lead to the bottom half.
A bunt single to lead off the bottom of the 12th gave the Sabres runners at the corners and nobody out, before a sacrifice fly tied the game at 7-7. Marian then had a single up the middle to give it runners at first and second and one out before a double drove in the winning run.
Castleton wraps up its Florida trip on Saturday with games against the University of Wisconsin-Superior and North Central (Ill.) at 9 and 11 a.m., respectively.