Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University softball team opened a new season and a new era by beating Notre Dame College (Ohio) by a 9-4 score on Friday (March 7) night in Clermont, Fla.
The Bulldogs broke open a tied game with five runs in the top half of the seventh inning to win their 2014 debut and the initial game under first-year head coach Sarah Rotta. The contest was a late addition to the FSU schedule and was part of the NTC games in the Sunshine State and held at the CTS Sports Complex.
Ferris State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with a run in the opening frame as sophomore outfielder Rachael Gabrielson scored on a passed ball in the opening inning of the season.
However, Notre Dame answered back in the bottom of the second inning by scoring a pair of runs aided by two Bulldog errors to grab a 2-1 advantage.
The Bulldogs, though, reclaimed the lead by plating two runs in the top of the third as FSU compiled three hits in the inning with help from a NDC error. Notre Dame answered back with a single run in the bottom of the third and then the two teams traded runs over the course of the next two innings with FSU taking a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth before the opponents answered with a single run to tie the game back up in the bottom of the fifth.
After a scoreless sixth frame, Ferris State came up big in the seventh. FSU tallied five runs on five hits along with an error to build a 9-4 advantage and redshirt freshman pitcher Stacy Thompson came on in the seventh to retire the side as the Bulldogs prevailed.
Senior pitcher Amy Dunleavy earned the victory for the Bulldogs in the season opener as she hurled the first six innings and allowed four runs on three hits with seven walks and a single strikeout. Thompson pitched the final inning and allowed only a single hit with two strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame's Mackenzie Wallace pitched the first three frames and gave up three runs on four Bulldog hits with no walks or strikeouts. Ashley Hall came on in relief and took the loss after surrendering six runs on seven hits in four innings pitched with five strikeouts and four walks.
Gabrielson led the Bulldogs at the plate with three hits in the contest and scored three runs for Ferris State. Senior outfielder Alex Wittman had two hits as did sophomore outfielder Alyssa Smith. Smith drove in two runs. FSU also received single hits from junior infielder Michelle Tononi along with junior first baseman Megan Galganski, freshman catcher Casey Bias along with Sarah Johnson. Galganski doubled for the Bulldogs in the outing.
Notre Dame was paced by both Lydia Coccitto and Kelsey Coleman, who notched two hits each for a Notre Dame squad playing its 13th goal of the year. They dropped to 6-7 overall with the loss.
Overall, Ferris State outhit the opposition 11-4 for the game and both teams had four errors in the field.
FSU will continue action in Florida by playing its next 12 games in a seven-day period at the Florida Rebel Spring Games starting on Saturday (March 8) in Winter Haven, Fla. This year, games will take place at both the DiamondPlex facility in Winter Haven along with the Auburndale Softball Complex.
The Bulldogs open action at the Florida Rebel Spring Games by facing facing Northern State (S.D.) on Saturday at 10 a.m. (ET) followed by an afternoon matchup versus Aldelphi (N.Y.) beginning at 2 p.m. (ET).