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Mar. 23, 2015

CSU softball off to a first-place start

By Jordan Smith

The Vikings sit atop the Horizon League standings with third-baseman Nena Doran earning Horizon League Player of the Week honors for the week of March 8. She is currently hitting .431 with seven home runs and 12 runs batted in. With her offensive prowess setting the tone for the rest of the team, the Vikings have a team batting average of .303 with an on-base percentage of .387.

The team opened up the season in February by winning all three games of the Cleveland State University Dome Tournament. It defeated University of Toledo by a final score of 4-3, Niagara College 8-0 and Canisius College 8-4.

A week later, it hit the road for the five-game NTC Tournament where it would emerge victorious twice. After a 3-0 shutout to Liberty University, the big bats of catcher Erica McNew and Duran helped put up 12 runs against Florida A&M University. McNew went 4-for-4 while driving in seven runs off of two singles, a double and a home run.

After the commanding victory, the Vikings were again shut out by a 3-0 count to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga before losing to the University of Missouri by a final score of 4-2. They would conclude the tournament with a 4-2 victory over South Dakota State University led by shortstop Cynthia Woodard. Her home run and double helped account for three Viking runs. Starting pitcher Susan Knight remained in the game for 6 1/3 innings in the victory.

Cleveland State would then leave Clearwater, Fla. for Jacksonville for the three-game Dolphin Classic.
The Vikings took an 8-4 loss in the series opener against Campbell University. They would recover the next day with a 4-1 victory over the Dolphins of Jacksonville University powered by another six-inning start by Knight. She allowed only four hits and struck out two batters in the victory.

The next game would contain more than three times as much offense as the previous, as the Vikings emerged victorious in a 14-11 win over Albeline Christian University. Cleveland State connected for 14 hits and a school-record seven home runs.

Getting in on the act was Woodard, McNew, Broschk (2 HRs), Sydney Morgan and Mackenzie Joecken (2 HRs).

Cleveland State would then travel to Georgia where it shutout Eastern Illinois by a final of 3-0. Knight started and again put on a pitching showcase allowing just six runs while striking out eight in the opening game of the three-game series in Canton, Ga. Woodard shouldered the load on offense with a homerun and two RBI’s.

In the following game, Cleveland State earned an 11-3 win over Northern Kentucky with a record breaking contribution from Doran. The third-baseman hit a single-game record three homers in the contest. The offense was paired with exceptional pitching, highlighted by starting pitcher Alex Radjen’s complete-game four-hitter.

The team lost to the St. Louis University Billiken’s 4-2 before coming back to defeat the Norse of Northern Kentucky University again in the series finale.

The 10-2 victory was spearheaded by the long ball. Four Vikings hit homeruns including Doran, Woodard, pitcher Mackenzie Jocken and first-baseman Hannah Yoe.

After having three games canceled due to weather, the Vikings then swept two games on the road against the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions. Cleveland State won both games of the doubleheader by a score of 7-2. Knight pitched her way to a three-hitter in which she struck out two batters and allowed three hits. She also had two hits and two RBI’s. Radjen came in to close out the final two innings, not allowing a single hitter.

In game two of the doubleheader, the Vikings fell behind after Knight’s RBI single gave them a 1-0 lead in the third.

The Lions maintained a 2-1 lead before a seventh inning one-out double by right-fielder Katelind Phillips and a game-tying one-run single by right-fielder Yoe. The Vikings put the game out of reach with Woodard’s three-run homer in the eighth.

The team’s winning ways ended with the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State University sweeping a double-header. The Vikings dropped game one of the double-header by a 6-2 count and the second game by a final score of 5-3. The Vikings returned to action with an 8-4 loss to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The loss dropped the Vikings record to 12-8 as of March 19. The next three matchups are at Wright State.