MOUNT VERNON – Cornell rallied late in Game 2 to salvage a softball split with Monmouth in the Midwest Conference opener for both South Division teams Wednesday night at Mount Vernon Softball Complex.
The Rams fell 4-2 in the first game, but bounced back with a big inning in the nightcap to take a 9-4 victory.
Cornell (8-5 overall, 1-1 MWC) overcame four Monmouth solo home runs in Game 2. Three of the blasts came in the fifth inning and gave the Fighting Scots (8-7, 1-1 MWC) a 4-3 lead. The Rams answered with six runs on four hits in the bottom of the fifth to take control.
Cornell's first three batters reached base in the fifth, and then Britt Schoon delivered a pinch-hit sacrifice fly that tied it at 4-4. Rebekah Ozga plated the go-ahead run with a double down the left-field line. Abby Haubold followed with a two-run single that gave the Rams a 7-4 lead. Brittani Yost added an RBI single and Jackie Sernek crossed on a wild pitch to complete Cornell's scoring in the decisive frame.
Junior Amanda Engel (4-4) tossed 2.1 scoreless innings in relief to notch the win. She struck out three and allowed two hits. Starter Jackie Sernek allowed four runs on seven hits and fanned four.
Yost and Haubold both went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs for Cornell, which totaled 10 hits and led 3-0 after two innings. Kari Martin doubled, singled and scored a run. Rilee Vest had an RBI double in the first.
In Game 2, the Fighting Scots struck for a quick run in the top of the first and played out in front the rest of the way. Monmouth tacked on three runs in the sixth to make it 4-0.
Vest collected three of Cornell's seven hits, including an RBI single that scored Kelsey Boss in the sixth. Sernek scored on a Monmouth fielding error that pulled the Rams within 4-2 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Cornell brought the winning run to the plate in cleanup hitter Martin, who lined out to right field to end the game.
Engel went the distance in the circle, giving up six hits and three earned runs. She struck out three and walked three. It was Engel's sixth complete game of the season.
Vest, Boss and Sernek each had a double in the opener.
Coming up – The Rams are back home Saturday for a key MWC doubleheader at 1 p.m. against Lake Forest (5-7, 0-0 MWC), which has claimed five conference titles in the past 11 years. The Foresters are picked to finish second in the South Division, just one total vote behind the Rams.