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Spartans, DePauw battle in conference champions clash

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Manchester University kept DePauw University in its sights throughout a non-conference doubleheader Wednesday, May 1. However, the visiting Tigers, champions of the North Coast Athletic Conference, held off the Spartans, champions of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, for 7-3 and 5-2 wins.

Junior third baseman Kylie Planck (Valaparaiso, Ind.) tripled and drove in three runs as part of a four-hit afternoon to lead the offense.

Three of her hits occurred in the opener. The last was a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth that tied the game at 3-3. DePauw (21-15) answered with a four-run, six-hit seventh inning rally and then held off the host Spartans (19-15).

The visiting team's bats continued their late roll of game one with a three-run first, aided by three hits, and single runs in the second and fifth innings off of home runs. MU attempted to stage a late-innings comeback, scoring a single run in the sixth due to an RBI single from senior outfielder Kayla Yates (Delphi, Ind.), as part of a two-hit performance in the nightcap, and then getting a walk, fielder's choice and error to plate a run in the sixth, but couldn't equalize.

Both Black and Gold pitchers gave strong accounts. Sophomore Maureen Lund (Huntington, Ind.) struck out four and was nicked for just one earned run on three hits over six innings in the opener. Fellow sophomore Ashlea Nash (Gas City, Ind.) fired seven innings in game two, allowing only two earned runs on six hits while striking out two.

Manchester University now works through final preparations ahead of the 2013 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4. The Spartans, the tourney's top seed, open the tourney on their home Spartan Field with a 12 p.m. first pitch against fourth-seeded Franklin after second-seeded Anderson and third-seeded Bluffton go nose-to-nose in game one at 10 a.m. Friday.

NOTES: Planck's plate success continued two impressive streaks for the junior. Her hit streak moved to 12, tying freshman catcher/designated player/infielder Kalie Niezgodski (South Bend, Ind.) for the team lead, and her on-base string increased to 15 straight games. Planck's batting average has risen 47 points (.289-.336) in the span. … Yates joins Planck in double figures for an on-base stretch. She's done so in 10 consecutive contests.