By Jake Calhoun
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM - Two games that had two different outcomes were essentially played by two different Martin Luther College softball teams on Thursday.
MLC fell to Northwestern 6-1 in Game 1 before winning a 5-3 contest in Game 2 of an Upper Midwest Athletic Conference doubleheader in New Ulm.
"In the first game, our defense was fine; offensively, we were ahead of the pitcher and were not getting solid hits," Leopold said. "We started second-guessing ourselves instead of adapting."
The Knights (11-12, 5-8 UMAC) struck first in Game 1 with an RBI single by Kelli Doell that drove in Sara Willems in the bottom of the second inning. They squandered that lead in the top of the third, however, by allowing four runs - three of which were unearned - to fall behind 4-1 in an eventual 6-1 decision.
Lauren Silberneck got the win for the Eagles (11-16, 7-5), holding the Eagles to one earned run on six hits in a complete-game effort.
Kathryn Marquardt allowed 13 hits in receiving the loss in the circle. Two of the six runs she allowed were earned.
Game 2 was substantially better for the Knights thanks to an almost seemingly 180-degree turnaround.
"Offensively and defensively, you could just tell that they owned the game," Leopold said of her team. "I think it was just the confidence in one another - everyone stepped up."
A deep shot by Andrea Biedenbender that smacked the left-center fence on a 1-0 count in the second inning was followed by a single from Willems that drove her in for the first run of Game 2.
MLC tallied three two-out runs in the fourth to take a 4-1 lead with momentum in its favor. Leopold said those two-out runs were critical.
"One thing we tell them is that we don't make the outs, the defense has to make the outs," Leopold said. "We've been doing this with two outs continuing to hit the ball.
"Sometimes we get people around if we can string them together and that was really important in the second game - we started stringing the hits together and moving people around."
With a 5-1 lead in the top of the seventh, MLC had a scare when starter Doell allowed four-straight singles with no outs to allow Threlkeld to score and cut the deficit to three.
Leopold then put in Marquardt in relief of Doell to stop the bleeding. Only one more run was scored before Marquardt caught Kaylee Forcier looking on a 2-2 pitch for the final out and her first save of the season.
"They just started getting the little bloopers in there and getting on," Leopold said. "Kathryn really just put a stop to everything. A part of it was - as one of the gals said - the defense was so fired up that was one less thing that the pitchers had to worry about. They just pitched the ball and knew that the defense was behind them."
MLC returns to action at 11 a.m. on Friday for a UMAC doubleheader against North Central.
UNW 004 101 0 - 6 13 1
MLC 010 000 0 - 1 6 2
Silberneck and Larkin; Marquardt and Biedenbender.
W - Silberneck (5-6) 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1.00 ERA
L - Marquardt (5-6) 7 IP, 13 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2.00 ERA
Leading hitters - UNW: Larkin 3-4 1 RBI, Ankrom 2-3 1 RBI 1 R, Pfaff 2-4 1 RBI 1 R, Threlkeld 2-4 2 R. MLC: Doell 1-3 1 RBI, Willems 1-3 1 R.
UNW 001 000 2 - 3 10 2
MLC 010 301 x - 5 12 0
Larson and Larkin; Doell, Marquardt (7) and Biedenbender.
W - Doell (5-5) 6 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 3.50 ERA
L - Larson (4-6) 6 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5.83 ERA
Sv - Marquardt (1) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA
Leading hitters - UNW: Kleinjan 3-4 1 RBI, Ankrom 2-3 1 R 1 BB, Stoltman 2-4. MLC: Willems 2-3 1 RBI 1 R, Seastrand 2-3 1 RBI, Schultz 2-3 1 RBI.