The Benet softball team fought back from some early struggles to beat the Neuqua Valley Wildcats 8-4 in six innings at the Dome in Rosemont on Monday.
The Redwings gave up 3 runs in the first inning, but Julianne Rurka drove in two runs in the bottom of the second on a triple on which she was thrown out trying to score. Rurka then got her home run the old-fashioned way, even though she didn't know it.
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"Well, when I saw it, it was in the field so I guess it bounced back in from the net," Rurka said while laughing. "But I thought it was a ground-rule double and I looked at the ump and he was like, 'Oh, you hit a home run.'"
The Neuqua bats got going early in the top of the first against Benet's Megan Stoppelman. The Wildcats' first batter, Julia Huebner, ripped a double to start the game, followed by a triple from Jenny Budds and a single by Jamie O'Brien.
After a mound visit and Benet catcher Steph Abello throwing out O'Brien trying to steal, Neuqua's Colleen Hill got into scoring position on a double and was driven home by a ground-rule double from Dominica Lange. The Wildcats ended the top of the first up 3-0.
Benet (4-0) got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning after Abello drove in Rurka with a single after Rurka was hit by a pitch from Wildcats pitcher Megan Bilgri.
In the second Stoppelman got the first out with the help of a diving outfield catch from Shannon Mills. Then Rurka stepped up for Benet.
Nos. 7 and 8 hitters Katie Norton and Mills each got on base with the help of a couple errors from Neuqua and Rurka came in and ripped a shot to right field. Rurka tried for the inside-the-park homer but was caught at the plate thanks to a nice tag from catcher Haleigh Yerkes.
The Wildcats (0-1) took the lead momentarily in the top of the fourth, but Rurka's 2-run home run put the Redhawks up 5-4 and Benet then added two more runs to end the inning 7-4.
"We're gonna get aggressive with the bats," said Benet coach Jerry Schilf. "Sometimes we'll be successful and sometimes we won't be. We're not gonna bunt very often, and we're just going to hit the ball."
The Redwings added one more in the in the bottom of the fifth to make it 8-4 to hand Neuqua Valley its opening day loss.
Neuqua's Bilgri picked up the loss despite her 9 strikeouts, while Stoppelman picked up the win. Rurka finished the game going 1-for-2 with 4 RBI.
"I thought Megan Bilgri did a fantastic job today," said Neuqua Valley coach Melissa Wilson. "She battled in there. Her defense obviously didn't get some of the job done that they should have got done, and because of that she had to battle back."