NCAA SOFTBALL: SMSU posts first win of season

AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Jazmyne Neely hit two solo home runs, while Alex O’Connor hurled a three-hit complete-game shutout to lift Southwest Minnesota State over Ferris State (Mich.) 5-0 on Monday.

The win was SMSU’s first of the season. The Mustnags fell 1-0 to Glenville State (W.Va.) in their second game of the day.

Neely got SMSU on the board with a solo home run in the second. The blast was the first home run hit by a Mustang this season.

The inning was extended on a Bulldog fielding error and SMSU took advantage by stringing some hits together. Erica Downing and Alysse Luttman walked following two strikeouts and Katelyn Kalkman reached on the error by Cara DeLange. Chelsey Rodenkirch and Kaley Scearcy roped singles to the outfield – Rodenkirch’s a two-RBI single to right and Scearcy’s an RBI single to left – to make it a 4-0 Mustang lead after two frames.

O’Connor was cruising until the fourth inning when FSU loaded the bases. With two outs, she struck out Rachael Gabrielson to end the frame.

O’Connor faced adversity again in the next inning after walking her way into a two-on and one-out scenario. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, but the Mustang hurler was able to bear down and get the pinch-hitting Sydney Hasselbach to fly out to end the threat.

O’Connor set the side down in order in the seventh to secure SMSU’s first victory of the season as well as her first collegiate win. She finished with a complete-game shutout, allowing just three hits while striking out three and walking five.

Her shutout was the first by an SMSU pitcher since Rachel Hoeppner shutout MSU-Moorhead on April 28, 2013.

O’Connor started SMSU’s second game as the Mustangs took on Glenville State (W.Va.). She saw her scoreless streak end in the first inning, when the Pioneers jumped on the scoreboard first with an RBI double to deep left field by Kayleigh Huck that scored Casey Scheaffer from first. The early hit proved to be the game-winning hit as SMSU managed only one hit in the game.

After setting down the first two batters in the third, Glenville State starting pitcher Samantha Weaver walked the next two batters to put the tying runner in scoring position. Rodenkirch popped out to Weaver to end the Mustang threat.

O’Connor was pulled without recording an out in the sixth after allowing a single and a wild pitch to lead off the inning. Hoeppner came in on relief and got the Mustangs out of the frame without any runs scoring.

Kailey Hanson, who entered as the catcher when Hoeppner came into the game, caught Scarpellini stealing at third. Hoeppner induced a ground out and then struck out Weaver looking to end the inning.

Alysse Luttmann got SMSU’s only hit of the game. In the top of the sixth, she smacked an infield single and then took second base on the same play. Luttmann advanced to third on Rodenkirch’s sacrifice bunt, but Jennifer Johnson grounded out to end the inning.

SMSU couldn’t muster any other hits after that as Weaver tossed a one-hit complete-game shutout to defeat the Mustangs 1-0. O’Connor was charged the loss as she allowed five hits and one walk, while striking out five in five complete innings. Hoeppner hurled two scoreless innings in relief with two strikeouts.

Weaver faced just 24 batters in the win – three above the minimum. She gave up one hit and two walks with two strikeouts in seven complete frames.

SMSU (1-9) plays Southern Indiana and Maryville (Mo.), respectively, at 12 and 2 p.m. today.