MILWAUKEE – Freshman Amanda Manssen hit a walk-off single in the first game of the day but the MSOE softball team saw its historic season come to a close with a 4-0 loss at the hands of Aurora in an elimination game of the 2017 NACC Championship Friday afternoon at Alverno Field.
The Raiders (29-14) won an early elimination game 3-2 over Dominican (30-13) before falling to the Spartans (31-15) in their second game.
MSOE had taken a 2-0 lead in the opener against the Stars but took a 2-2 tie into the seventh inning.
Sophomore Julia Marsh led off the seventh with a walk and, after a fielder's choice, sophomore Emma Megal singled to put runners on first and second. After a fly out, Manssen stepped in and went the other way with a slicing fly ball to right field. The ball eluded the right fielder's glove and sophomore Rachel Ziemba scored easily from second base as the ball rolled to the corner.
Senior Shannon Curtis (19-8) threw 7.0 innings to get the win, allowing just three hits, three walks, and a pair of runs.
The Raiders opened the scoring with single runs in the second and third innings but was routinely threatening to add to the advantage. In the second, White led off with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Senior Callie Wightman fouled out to the first baseman at the fence two batters, allowing White to score easily.
Then, in the third, Ziemba led off with a single and stole second. Two batters later, Moran singled up the middle to plate Ziemba.
Dominican answered back with a pair of runs in the fourth inning to level the game at 2-2. Gabi Alfaro hit a one-out home run and Alyssa Domico singled with two outs. Domico stole second and scored on a single up the middle by Sydney Kuderna.
The opening win advanced MSOE to another elimination game, this time against Aurora. The Spartans struck first this time with a pair of runs in the first inning and another score in the second to open a 3-0 lead. That was seemingly enough for the AU pitching staff, as it kept the Red & White hitters off balance.
The Raiders drew five walks in the game but had just two hits through six innings. They did load the bases with two outs in the second but after a quick pitching change, a fielder's choice got Aurora out of danger.
MSOE also loaded the bases in the seventh inning after the deficit was extended to 4-0. Ziemba, Moran, and Manssen each singled to bring the tying run to the plate. Unfortunately, a pop-up foul was tracked down by the shortstop to end the game.
Despite the loss, the Raiders still celebrated a historic season. They won a school-record 29 games. And, after being picked 10th in the NACC preseason poll, they went 17-5 in league play to tie for second and qualify for just their second league tournament since joining the conference in 2008.
This was also the final game for three seniors in Curtis, Wightman, and Kailey Smith. Curtis capped a season in which she set school records with 172 strikeouts, 34 appearances, and 193.2 innings pitched. She did so with the sixth-best ERA (2.42) and second-most wins (19) by a Raider in team history.