EUREKA, Ill. -- The Eureka College softball team earned its first victory over St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Fontbonne since 2008 with a 4-1 win Saturday in game one, then overcame an early five-run deficit in the nightcap by scoring six times in the final three innings for a wild 6-5 walk-off win.
The decisions marked Eureka's first doubleheader sweep of the Griffins in 11 seasons as conference rivals. The game-one win snapped a 20-game losing streak in the series against Fontbonne. The Griffins have won six consecutive SLIAC regular-season championships and won at least a share of 10 of the last 14 titles since 2003.
The Red Devils now own sole possession of fourth place in the current league standings, two games ahead of Fontbonne in the loss column for the final spot in next month's SLIAC Tournament.
In game one, Fontbonne jumped in front early thanks to an unearned run. Sam Brown's triple to right field scored Courtney Kedroski, who reached on an error earlier in the frame.
Eureka did all of its damage in the second inning. Freshman catcher Morgan Osborn (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) started the rally when she poked a leadoff double into the left-field corner. A single and a walk loaded the bases for freshman Erin Smith (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap H.S.), who tied the game at 1-1 with her RBI groundout. A bases-loaded wild pitch gave EC a 2-1 lead in front of sophomore shortstop Kerrigan Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.), who dumped a two-out, two-run single into center field for a 4-1 cushion.
Junior right-hander Kali George did the rest in the pitching circle. George didn't allow an earned run and scattered four hits over the full 7.0 innings.
Five different Red Devils had a hit in the opener. Only Osborn's second-inning double went for extra bases.
In game two, Fontbonne sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning to put the pressure on the Red Devils early. Brown put the Griffins on the board with a three-run home run that struck the left-field foul pole. Two more runs scored later in the frame on a dropped fly ball in the EC outfield. When the dust finally settled, FU owned a 5-0 lead.
Eureka failed to capitalize on a handful of threats throughout the contest before finally getting on the board in the fifth inning. Senior third baseman Bridget Bankes (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S.) made it 5-2 with a two-run ground-rule double. One inning later, the Red Devils pulled within a single run, 5-4, thanks to an RBI single from junior Krysten Wallace (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.) and an RBI groundout by Dura.
EC finished the comeback in dramatic fashion in the seventh. Osborn drew a one-out walk. With two outs in the inning, the Griffins appeared to escape danger, but the FU infield was unable to record an out on a routine comebacker off the bat of Madaline Kane (Havana, Ill./Havana H.S.) that would have ended the game.
With new life and the winning run on the base paths, sophomore Kylie Whightsil (Spring Valley, Ill./Hall H.S.) pulled a single through the left side of the infield. Osborn scored the tying run from second and Kane safely advanced to third. Whightsil appeared to get caught in between first and second base during the play, but when the Griffins attempted to tag Whightsil for the third out to send the game to extra innings, Kane dashed home from third to score the winning run and put the exclamation point on a wild sequence that gave the Red Devils' their sixth straight league win.
Wallace had three of the Red Devils' nine hits in game two. Kane scored twice, including the game-winner. Smith overcame the bumpy first inning in the circle, holding the Griffins scoreless over the final six innings to secure her eighth win of the season.
With four SLIAC games remaining in the regular season, Eureka can guarantee its spot in the SLIAC Tournament for the second consecutive season with three more conference victories. The Red Devils will continue their quest for the tournament bid on Monday when Greenville visits for a 2 p.m. doubleheader.