NCAA SOFTBALL: Mustangs fall twice in Florida

AUBURNDALE, Fla. – The Southwest Minnesota State University softball team dropped a pair of games on Thursday, falling to Southern Indiana 6-2 and Hillsdale College (Mich.) 2-0 at the Rebel Spring Games.

With the losses, the Mustangs fall to 2-12 overall on the season.

Facing Southern Indiana for the second time in three days, SMSU put a pair of runs on the board, something they weren’t able to do in the earlier meeting against the same pitcher.

“The girls did a better job of hitting strikes earlier in the count,” said SMSU head coach Jamie Dunn. “We forced her to throw some different pitches and did a better job of taking her out of her game.”

In the game, Southern Indiana scored in the bottom of the first when the Screaming Eagles got a two-run double from Brooke Harmening after the first two batters reached on a walk and a single. A sacrifice bunt by Grace Clark moved the runners into scoring position, set up Harmening’s double

USI extended its lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth with four runs on six hits. Harmening led off the inning with a solo shot to left. USI loaded the bases and Teri Newmaster drove in two runs with a hard single to center. MacKenzi Dorsam followed suit with a single to center of her own to make it 6-0. SMSU got out of the inning with double play on a slick play by Kaley Scearcy at third base.

SMSU got its first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single to right by Elissa Reinsma. Katelyn Kalkman, who reached on an error with two outs, scored from second.

SMSU added a second run an inning later on an aggressive play by the pinch-running Alysse Luttmann. Scearcy hit a ground-rule double to the left field corner and Luttmann promptly stole third and ended up scoring after the throw trickled into the outfield.

That would be the closest SMSU got as the Mustangs went scoreless in the seventh inning and took a second defeat this season at the hands of USI. SMSU fell 9-0 to USI in six innings on Tuesday.

Alex O’Connor (2-6) pitched four innings and gave up all six earned runs on eight hits and two walks. Rachel Hoeppner struck out three in her two innings of relief.

In the second game Hoeppner started strong, cruising until the seventh inning.

“We expected it to be a tough game,” Dunn said. “We’ve been having a hard time finishing games.”

Hoeppner walked the leadoff batter, who scored on an RBI single by Katie Ardrey.

Prior to the seventh inning, Hoeppner had tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just one walk and three hits.

“Rachel had three hits going into the seventh and she walked the leadoff hitter,” said Dunn. “The next thing you know, we gave up two runs.”

Hoeppner didn’t receive any run support as the Mustangs managed just four hits on Hillsdale’s Ardrey, who improved to 2-0 with the win. Hoeppner falls to 0-6 this season.

Chelsey Rodenkirch paced SMSU with two of its four hits in the game.

SMSU put the game-winning run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but Rodenkirch lined out hard to short and the pinch-hitting Jazmyne Neely grounded out to end it.

SMSU will wrap-up the Rebel Spring Games today with games versus Glenville State (W.Va.) and Florida Southern.

“I told the girls in the post game that we need to change our thinking,” said Dunn. “Instead of coming in playing not to lose, we need to show up expecting to win two games.”