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Softball sees the benefits and drawbacks of the mercy rule

The Braves ended up on both ends of the Missouri Valley Conference’s mercy rule  when facing off against Evansville at Laura Bradley Park this past weekend.
The mercy rule for NCAA softball is put into effect if one team is ahead by at least eight runs after five innings of play.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Braves were on the losing side of the rule, dropping the contest to the Purple Aces by a final score of 11-0.
Senior Amanda Clack started for the Braves, throwing two innings, giving up four hits and five runs, four earned and one walk.
Evansville broke the game open in the third inning, when the Purple Aces scored nine runs off three different Bradley pitchers in the frame.
They took advantage of two Bradley errors and a passed ball while racking up five hits, two walks and a hit batsman.
Evansville shortstop Amy Gaertner went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, while second baseman Alicia Betancur went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the opening game of the double header.
“The first game was a struggle and we did not play to our potential,” senior Janay Mitchell said. “However, the second game was a big turn around. Instead of keeping our heads down from the first game, the team came out and did very well.”
Junior catcher Kate Singler went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in the second game and scored two, and battery mate Brandi Ore threw a two hitter, recording her second shutout for the year.
Ore gave up just two singles and two walks in the five-inning complete game.
Evansville pitcher Kendall Kautz took the loss in the second game, giving up two runs on three hits in the first inning after throwing a complete game earlier in the day.
Mitchell started small ball play during her 3-for-4 day at the plate, igniting a rally with a one-out bunt then stealing second, one of her three stolen bases on the day.
Singler hit a sharp single and advanced to second when the throw came in to third.
Sophomore Jackie Roth came up and put down a squeeze bunt to score Mitchell from third. Roth advanced to second on the play after Kautz fell down while fielding the bunt.
Freshman shortstop Taylor Cox put down a squeeze bunt in the very next at-bat to plate another run, giving the Braves an early 2-0 lead.
Bradley got three more runs in the second on a bases clearing double by Singler and got three more runs in the fourth inning. The game ended on a wild pitch, plating the eighth and final run for the Braves.
Bradley’s final game of the weekend against Evansville was cancelled due to inclement weather on Saturday afternoon.
Coach Amy Hayes said she believes her team is at a turning point in the season.
“Just starting conference … we have the opportunity to move forward,” Hayes said. “We haven’t been able to put many complete games together with all engines firing at the same time and at this point that is our goal.”
Mitchell said the Braves have set their goals very high this season.
“We want to improve upon what we did last year and continue to grow,” she said. “Last year we proved we could compete against the best. We want to come out and make a statement again this year.”
The Braves return to action tomorrow with a three-game set at Drake.
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