HU softball team earns first berth at NAIA national tourney

The Huntington University softball team earned its first berth in the NAIA Softball National Championship by winning three games on Thursday, May 1, in the Crossroads League Tournament at Taylor University to advance to the league championship game on Friday, May 2.

The Crossroad League receives two automatic bids to the NAIA tournament, and Huntington and its championship game opponent, Taylor, got the tickets. The NAIA tourney is May 12 to 14.

The Foresters, 30-20, squeaked past Marian, 7-5, on Thursday morning, then beat Indiana Wesleylan, 8-4, in the afternoon before defeating Bethel, 6-2, at night to earn their berth into the finals and the NAIA tourney.

Emily Puterbaugh fired her second complete game victory of the day and sophomore Annie Weaver blasted the first home run of her college career as HU got its revenge on Bethel for dropping it to the losers' bracket earlier in the tourney.

While Puterbaugh was throwing blanks at Bethel for the first four innings, Weaver put HU up 2-0 with her dinger over the center field fence. Bethel got solo tallies in both the fifth and sixth innings, but HU got a three-spot in the fifth and another score in the sixth.

Puterbaugh yielded seven hits and two earned runs, with 10 strikeouts and one walk.

Emily O'Leary also had two hits for HU.

HU dropped a six-spot on IWU in the first inning of second game of the day, and pitcher Marcie McDougle made it stand up with a complete game effort. She gave up four earned runs on nine hits, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Katie Knous continued her recent hit attack with two hits, two runs batted in and two runs scored to lead HU. Weaver, Katie DePew, Bess Fiechter and Kaitlyn Troyer each also had two hits, and Cristin Carter added two RBI.

Weaver and Natalie McGuire each smacked three hits to lead HU over Marian in the day's opening game. Knous, Lindsay Shellabarger and Carter each had a pair of hits as HU rang up 16 for the game in support of Puterbuagh, who went all seven innings, yielding five earned runs on eight hits, with three strikeouts and four walks.

HU scored three runs in the third inning and three more in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead, but Marian made it interesting with three runs of its own in the sixth inning.