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Bison softball delivers first win in the Coach Bottoms era

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A day after the Gallaudet University baseball team ended its 20-game losing streak to begin the 2010 season the Bison softball team earned their first win of the season and ended their own 20-game losing streak dating back to last year. Gallaudet took down visiting College of Notre Dame (Md.) 12-8 in six innings of the second game of Friday’s doubleheader as the Bison now stand 1-11 this season. The Gators (2-4) took the first game 10-3 on a gorgeous and picture perfect afternoon in the nation’s capital.

The victory is the first for Interim Head Coach Kitty Bottoms who took over for legendary Bison coach Sarah Doleac who retired after 25 years. Bottoms served four years as an assistant under Doleac and was a former Bison player before that.

It has been over a year and one day since Gallaudet softball last won a game as the Bison beat Penn St.-Harrisburg 10-4 on April 1, 2009.

Junior Alicia Balzer (Montgomery Village, Md.) slugged two home runs and drove in four runs in the doubleheader as she blasted a two-run home run in each game to pace the Bison offense.

GU jumped out to an early 2-1 lead in the second game before the Bison fell behind one run, 3-2, going into the bottom of the third inning. The Bison regained the lead for good as they manufactured three runs.

Alicia Balzer runs home towards her teammates after her second home run on Friday. The big inning came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Gallaudet scored seven runs, the most runs in one inning this season for the Buff and Blue. After a quick out the Bison hit four hits and earned a walk over the next five batters. Two of them came around to score on a two-run triple hit by sophomore Michelin Barron (Frederick, Md.) to deep right field. Balzer stepped up next and sent out her second home run in the game to right-center field. The Bison now led 12-3, its biggest margin of the season. The 12 runs are also a season high.

Gallaudet had a chance to close out the game in the fifth inning if the Bison could get three outs and induce the eight-run mercy rule after five innings of play. Notre Dame did not go quietly as it scored five runs in the top of the fifth inning as things got sloppy for the Bison.

GU got out of the inning and sat the Gators down in order in the top of the sixth inning as the game was called due to darkness.

Freshman Nicole O’Malley (Fredericksburg, Va.) earned the win as she pitched over four innings where she allowed eight runs (six earned) on two hits, nine walks, three hit batters, two wild pitches while she struck out four Gators. Balzer came into the game to get the final five outs.

Freshman shortstop Kara Gulvas (Crown Point, Ind.) went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in two runs and scored twice in the win. Junior catcher Casey McCullough (Oceanside, Calif.) scored twice, knocked in two runs on a double and had two hits. O'Malley also had three singles and two runs scored.

In the first game, Gallaudet fell behind 2-0 after a half inning of play. The Bison got one run back in the bottom half as O’Malley led off with a triple and scored on a ground out made by junior Jessica Buckwalter (Palmyra, Mo.).  The Gators added to their lead with a run in the second before Balzer knotted the game at 3-3 on her first home run of the day to deep center field.

Notre Dame scored six in the top of the fourth and added an insurance run in the top of the sixth as the game went the distance. Kirsten Smulovitz (2-1) won the game as pitched the complete game. Balzer suffered her fourth loss this season as she went the distance.

GU will next host Hood College in a Capital Athletic Conference doubleheader tomorrow (Saturday, April 3) with the first game set to begin at Noon.