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April 27, 2013

Key league sweep highlights Senior Day 2013

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A strong offensive attack in the opener and a pair of solid pitching efforts helped lead Manchester University to 11-3, 3-2 wins over Rose-Hulman in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play Saturday, April 27.

The Spartans, improving to 17-13 overall and 9-3 in the league, rapped out 15 hits in game one. Sophomore shortstop Emily Willmann (Montpelier, Ind.) topped the outburst with four hits in as many at-bats, three runs scored and two RBIs, while freshman designated hitter Kalie Niezgodski (South Bend, Ind.) drove in three runs and belted a three-run home run that ended the contest after five innings. Junior third baseman Kylie Planck (Valparaiso, Ind.), freshman first baseman MacKenzie Williams (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and sophomore outfielder Shannon Stephan (Granger, Ind.) added two hits each.

MU's attack was more than enough to assist sophomore pitcher Maureen Lund (Huntington, Ind.) Gaining her 10th win of the season, she struck out five, scattered six Fightin' Engineer hits, and gave up just two earned runs.

Lund's staff mate, sophomore Ashlea Nash (Gas City, Ind.) was just as strong in game two. She also K'ed five in a complete-game win, while Rose-Hulman managed just one earned run against her.

The Spartan offense had just enough to support Nash's pitching. Senior outfielder Kayla Yates (Delphi, Ind.), one of three players recognized prior to first pitch as part of Senior Day 2013 festivities, drilled an RBI double in the fifth to tie the game at 1-1, while Niezgodski came back to hit her seventh home run of the season in the sixth for a 2-2 tie. Manchester University threatened quickly in the final at-bat, putting two on with nobody out, as Willmann concluding a big afternoon at the plate, blooped a single to score freshman pinch runner Ashley Stahl (Wheatland, Ind.) with the winning run.

The Black and Gold is scheduled to wrap up HCAC play with a road doubleheader at Defiance College of Ohio Sunday, April 28. First pitch is 12 p.m.

NOTES: MU locked up a conference postseason tournament bid during the sweep. It's the third time in the last four years that they've a berth. … The Spartans maintain a percentage-points lead over second-place Anderson with two games to play. … Niezgodski extended the team's best hitting streak of the season to 10 games. She's been on a tear during the string with a .429 batting average, .800 slugging percentage, 15 hits, three home runs and 11 RBIs.