CLERMONT, Fla. – MIT had its best offensive output of the season but could not hold onto an early lead, falling to Mount Mercy College, 7-6, in spring break softball action on Tuesday. The Engineers also suffered a 6-0 setback to No. 12 ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater earlier in the day. With a pair of games remaining on their Florida trip, Tech's ledger now stands at 1-8 overall.
Against Mount Mercy (8-3), Sarah Van Belleghem (Los Gatos, Calif.) belted her first career homerun, one of two extra-base hits for the freshman, and drove in three runs while scoring twice. Five of Tech's 11 hits went for extra-bases, including doubles by Van Belleghem, junior Anna Christensen (Vernon Hills, Ill.) and freshman Karly McLaughlin (Edwardsville, Ill.) as well as a triple off the bat of junior Leah Alpert (Needham, Mass.).
Mount Mercy struck first, plating three runs in the top of the first inning but MIT wasted little time in responding, bouncing back for a pair in the home half of the frame. Christensen and Van Belleghem hit back-to-back one-out doubles and McLaughlin brought Van Belleghem home with a base hit.
After the Mustangs extended their lead to 4-2 in the third, Van Belleghem once again plated Christensen with the long ball to even things up at four. The Engineers could have tacked on more in the inning, as McLaughlin laced a double with no one out but the freshman was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. Mount Mercy escaped with no further damage thanks to a strikeout by freshman Ellie Fodor (Trenton, Mich.) and fly-out from junior Jessica Iacobucci (Phoenixville, Pa.).
Tech finally took the lead in the fourth inning, thanks to a pair of runs to make it 6-5. Senior Katie Harrington's (Lexington, Ky.) base-hit brought in Alpert, following her one-out triple. Harrington would move into scoring position on a wild pitch and an error and score on Christensen's fielder's choice. Van Belleghem came up with runners on second and third and a chance to do even more damage but senior Nydia Ruleman (Germantown, Tenn.) was thrown out at the plate on Van Belleghem's grounder to third.
Fodor would come in to pitch in the top of the fifth, as a couple of MIT miscues allowed the game-winning runs to score in the frame. Leadoff batter, Emily Hickey (Independence, Iowa), reached on an error and moved to second on a wild pitch. Hickey was driven in on a double by Mariah Early (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), who later scored thanks to the Cardinal and Gray's third error of the afternoon.
Fodor, representing the tying run, wound up in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh but would get no further, as back-to-back groundouts by Iacobucci and junior Emily Creedon (Stoneham, Mass.) ended the threat.
Fodor took the loss, allowing a pair of unearned runs over three innings while striking out three batters. McLaughlin pitched the first four innings, surrendering five runs on eight hits.
Against Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Engineers were touched up for five runs in the second inning, which would be more than enough, as MIT managed just two hits on the day. Iacobucci took the loss, after giving up three runs on two hits and four walks for the Warhawks (7-1).
Tech will wrap up its trip with a pair of games Wednesday, facing DePauw University and Middlebury College. The game against Middlebury will be the third meeting between the two teams this week. MIT will then return home for its New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener on Friday, March 30 at home against Wellesley College. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 3:00 p.m.