It may have been cold and the field may have been wet, but the Alpena Community College softball team played its last home series on Wednesday well enough to split with No. 1 Oakland with a 4-3 win and an 11-3 five-inning mercy loss.
"It feels fantastic (to win). Coming from last year, when Oakland was way ahead of us every game, to even take that one game from them, even if its that one, is a big success for us," ACC coach Erin Riopelle said.
The first game was a field-day for hitters: ACC (9-11, 8-10 Eastern Conference) picked up nine hits while Oakland (23-14, 14-4) had 11.
News Photo by Eric Benac
ACC’s Kelli Stevens, right, tries to slide back to first base on a pickoff attempt in a home game against Oakland on Wednesday. ACC split the doubleheader, winning 4-3 and losing 11-3.
The Lumberjacks got hits first when Alex Chmura and Kelli Stevens hit back-to-back singles with one out in the bottom of the second inning. But Stevens was thrown out at first base while the next batter struck out to end the inning.
Oakland got on the board in the top of the third inning when Brittany Cunningham singled and was driven to third by an Aryana Nacker double.
Kim Jayson grounded out to drive in Cunningham and to give Oakland the 1-0 lead.
ACC pitcher Laura Lewis pitched a full game, giving up11 hits, three runs and one walk while striking out three to earn one last win on her home field.
"(Winning today) feels great after playing (for ACC) for two years. We're all really pumped up and we had a lot of adrenaline pumped through us and it was really fun to play on this field one last time," Lewis said. "Since I played on this field in high school, its really emotional."
Lewis also played with ACC catcher Kelli Stevens and left fielder Cassandra Shaw while at Alpena High.
ACC answered back in the third inning when Ashley Nowland made it home after Oakland catcher Alexis Powell tried to pick off a runner at second. Nowland, on third, made it home easily to tie the game up 1-1.
The Lumberjacks continued scoring in the fourth inning. Chmura got on first after being hit by a pitch and was then driven in by Stevens on a double.
Stevens was later tagged out trying to steal third.
Katie Cox and Ashley Nowland then singled to put runners on second and first. Ashleigh Monticello drove in Cox with a single while Nowland stole home to put the Lumberjacks up 4-1.
It was ACC's biggest lead of the day.
Oakland narrowed it to 4-3 in the fifth inning when Nacker drove in Katie Nelson. Nacker was then driven in by Andrea Deneweth.
The Lumberjacks bats went dry for the rest of the game, but Oakland knocked on ACC's door in the top of the seventh inning when it loaded the bases with two outs. Manda Messer then hit a bloop foul to ACC first baseman Kayla Shepard who caught it to pull off the upset.
Things didn't go so well for ACC in the second game.
Oakland's first batter, Maggie Irvine tripled and was driven in by Selena Hicks in the first inning to give Oakland the 1-0 lead. Oakland then went up 2-0 when Irvine hit a solo homer in the third inning.
The Lumberjacks answered back when Paige Lewandowski hit a three run homer in the third, driving in Monticello and Lewis and giving ACC the brief 3-2 lead.
Lewis pitched the first four innings, but gave up six runs on six hits, including a three-run homer, to give Oakland the 8-3 lead.
Oakland scored three more times in the fifth inning to go up 11-3 and ultimately came away with the win.
"The other team started to pick up on our pitcher a little bit more. They started pushing us a bit more and it made us get a little flustered," Riopelle said.
ACC travels to Oakland to finish its regular season on Friday. It starts playoff action next Wednesday.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.