BLOOMINGTON, Il. – Calvin dropped its NCAA III Tournament opener, falling to Milwaukee School of Engineering 7-5 Thursday afternoon on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University.
Calvin (29-9) falls into the loser's bracket and will face Otterbein on Friday in an elimination game at 1:30 p.m. (CST).
Milwaukee School of Engineering (34-10) scored six runs in the top of the first inning to put the Knights in a big hole early. The Raiders placed their first three batters on base and took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Amanda Manssen and then went up 5-0 on a grand slam home run by Kim White.
MSOE added one more run in the first and added another in the top of the sixth.
Calvin then mounted a sixth-inning rally as junior Grace Quiggle (Saranac, Mich./Lowell HS) doubled and junior Kayla Groen (Frankfort, Il./Lincoln-Way East HS) reached on a fielder's choice and senior Rachel Borden (Edwardsburg, Mich./Edwardsburg HS) followed with a bunt single.
Senior Kristen Newman (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea HS) doubled down the right field line to bring in two runs and freshman Hannah Biddlecome (Portage, Mich./Portage Northern HS) followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Borden.
Calvin loaded the bases with one out but could not continue the rally as a pop-up and a strikeout closed out the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Groen belted a two-run homer – her seventh of the season to bring the Knights within 7-5. The three Calvin batters went down in order however as the Knight comeback bid was extinguished.
Groen went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead an 11-hit Calvin attack. Quiggle and sophomore Grace Stock (Vickburg, Mich./Vicksburg HS) had two hits apiece. Both of Quiggle's hits were doubles.
Sophomore Ellie Borst (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian HS) took the loss to fall to 14-5 on the season. Senior Anna Gernant (West Des Moines, Ia./Valley HS) came on in relief and finished with 10 strikeouts.
COACHES COMMENT: "It (first inning) was not an ideal start but to our credit we continued to battle," said Calvin softball coach Becky Hilgert. "I am proud of the way we fought. In the sixth inning we needed one or two more clutch hits but we came up just a bit short. They (MSOE) are a great hitting team. They came ready to play and took advantage of their opportunities. We are not done yet though and we will keep fighting all the way through."