LINDSBORG — The Bethany College softball team split its home opener Monday against No. 23-ranked Central Methodist, losing 11-9 in the opener but coming back for a 15-10 decision in the nightcap.
In the first game, the Swedes opened the scoring when Ashley Montoya singled to right and scored Jasmine Zaker in the first inning. Kelli Traffas would then single to right. After a throwing error, Montoya would score to make it 2-0 for the Swedes.
Central Methodist would score two runs in the top half of the second inning. The Eagles were aided in their efforts by two Swede errors. But Bethany would respond and score one in the bottom half of the inning. Camille McIver hit an infield single and would advance to second on an overthrow. She would score moments later when Zaker hit a line-drive into right field, to take a 3-2 lead.
The Eagles would gain the lead in the third inning by scoring three runs on four hits. Bethany would plate a run in the third. After Traffas hit a one-out single and stole second base, Mariana Cerenio-Jordan hit a single to right, which scored Traffas. The score pulled the Swedes within one, 5-4.
Central Methodist would again score a run in the top half of the inning. Bethany would respond in the bottom of the fourth inning. With runners on first and second, Montoya hit a deep double to left-center which scored Jenna Carson and Emily Causey. The runs would tie it up after four innings, 6-6.
Both teams would go quietly in the fifth, but the Eagles would plate five runs in the sixth inning. The Swedes would not score in the bottom of the sixth. However, the Swedes would give themselves a chance by holding Central Methodist scoreless in the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, Montoya hit a one-out double to right field. She would score one batter later when Traffas tripled to right field. Traffas broke for home and scored when the Eagles tried to catch Arianna Galvan stealing second. Courtney Davis singled to center scoring Galvan. A single put runners on first and second with the winning run coming to the plate. However, the Eagles clamped down and that is all the Swedes would score.
Central Methodist would start fast in the second game and looked to be in control as the Eagles scored seven runs in the first inning. Cerenio-Jordan got the ball rolling for the Swedes in the bottom of the first. She hit an infield to short, and stole second base. Cerenio-Jordan later scored on a sacrifice fly by Montoya. But after the inning, Bethany still trailed 7-1.
After a scoreless second, the Swedes inched closer in the third inning. Stephanie Minder started off the inning by doubling down the left-field line. She would steal third before Zaker walked. After a Zaker steal put runners on second and third, Cerenio-Jordan singled to right to score both runners bringing the Swedes within four runs, 7-3. Later in the inning, McIver hit a ball to deep center for a sacrifice fly to score Cerenio-Jordan inching Bethany another run closer.
The Eagles looked like they had regained momentum in the fourth inning when they scored another run. But that is when the Swedes bats came to life. Jordan Blakesley led off the inning for Bethany with a double to deep left field. Ashley Nicolich singled to center to score the pinch runner, Galvan. Following a single and steal by Zaker to put runners on second and third, Cerenio-Jordan singled to left to bring home Nicolich. Zaker would score on a stolen base. Moments later Cerenio-Jordan would score thanks to Montoya's triple down the line in right field. Montoya would score when Traffas laid down a bunt, giving the Swedes a 9-8 advantage after four innings.
Bethany's defense would step up and not allow the Eagles to score in the fifth. Following a walk and an error, Nicolich placed down a sacrifice bunt moving both runners into scoring position. Minder then hit an infield single scoring Davis. Blakesley scored on Zaker's deep sacrifice fly to left field. After a Cerenio-Jordan single, Montoya hit a three-run homerun over the right field fence on the first pitch she saw. Traffas then reached on an error. She would be brought home when McIver singled to center. When the dust settled the Swedes had scored six runs and took a 15-8 lead.
Central Methodist would score twice in the top of the sixth inning. That was all the Eagles could manage even though they left the bases loaded as Minder got out of the inning when Madi Watson flew out to Nicolich, ending the threat. The Swedes would not score in the bottom of the sixth, but the Eagles would not threaten in the seventh.
"We are really happy with the way we are hitting the ball. We put up 24 runs on the night," Bethany coach Janice Esses said. "We really have to work harder on shutting teams down. We gave up 21 runs, we have to work on minimizing our damage and not giving up so many hard hits. Central Methodist is a strong-hitting team, ranked 23rd in the country and a win against them is a quality win and a big step forward for us."
The Swedes will be in action Saturday when they host Doane College.