NCAA SOFTBALL: Mustangs take two from Mary
By David Merrill
MARSHALL – Southwest Minnesota State used a late rally to top the University of Mary 4-3 on Sunday in the second game of a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader against the Marauders. The Mustangs won the first game 10-2 and went 3-1 on the weekend.
SMSU split with Minot State on Saturday. A story about those games is posted on our website: www.marshallindependent.com.
SMSU 4, U-Mary 3
The Mustangs fell behind 3-0 after 3 innings when right fielder Jazmyne Neely started a rally started a double before first baseman Jennifer Johnson reached on a fielder’s choice.
Freshman second baseman Karmann Carroll brought in both runners with a single up the middle, cutting the score to 3-2 as the nightcap headed to the fifth inning.
Left fielder Alysse Luttman and shortstop Chelsey Rodenkirch got SMSU started in the bottom of the fifth with a single and a double, respectively. Luttman was eventually tagged out at home plate when the Mustangs attempted a squeeze play, but center fielder Elissa Reinsma beat out a dropped third strike, thanks to a throwing error and Rodekirch came in from third to tie the game 3-3.
Reinsma was able to steal second before third basemen Morgan Peterson singled to left field and advanced to second on a throwing error that allowed Reinsma to score and give the Mustangs the 4-3 lead heading into the sixth.
The Marauders threatened in the sixth with singles from Francine Villalobos and DeMaree Rodriguez before Rachel Hoeppner, who took over for starter Alex O’Connor inside the pitcher’s circle in the third inning, forced Amber Gamboa to line out to right field.
Both teams went down in order in their final plate appearances, sealing the comeback victory for the Mustangs.
Carroll finished the game with the only two RBI of the contest and the Mustangs score two runs on two Marauders errors. SMSU had two hits each from Rodenkirch, Peterson and Neely, to go with a hit from Carroll.
Shelbie Stoll, who came into pinch-run, Neely, Reinsma and Rodenkirch plated tallies for the Mustangs.
SMSU 10, U-Mary 2 (5 innings)
The Marauders jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, which held until the third inning, when the Mustangs exploded for five runs. The inning was highlighted by a bases-clearing double from Neely that gave the Mustangs a 4-1 lead following a bases-loaded walk to Peterson.
Neely, who scored the fifth run of the frame on Johnson’s single, reached second on the second error of the inning by the Marauders and gave the Mustangs a 5-1 lead heading into the fourth.
U-Mary added one a run in the four before the Mustangs tacked on three more tallies in the bottom of the frame on a RBI double from Rodenkirch, a single from Neely that allowed Peterson and Reinsma to score on the Marauder’s third error.
SMSU took an 8-2 lead into the fifth before putting the game away due to the eight-run rule, scoring twice more. Reinsma brought in the first run of the inning with a RBI single and Luttman scored on a sacrifice fly to end the game.
Neely finished the game with five RBI while Johnson, Peterson, Reinsma and Rodenkirch each added one apiece as the Mustangs’ 10 runs came on 20 hits and three errors.
Hoeppner pitched all five innings, allowing two runs on four hits with one strikeout and one walk.
The Mustangs, who have played the majority of their season in the southern United States, returned home for the first time Saturday.
Being back in familiar surroundings seemed lift the team to new heights.
“These are our first home games and we worked really hard to get the field ready to play,” SMSU coach Jamie Dunn said. “That’s what I tell the girls all the time – hard work pays off, whether it’s in practice or getting our field ready. Having the fans out, it was nice to come home and play here.”
While the whole team seemed to benefit from the familiar surroundings, especially Hoeppner, who picked up three wins during the weekend homestead to mover her record to 4-7 this season.
In 15 2/3 innings, Hoeppner recorded nine strikeouts while allowing two walks and nine hits.
What the statistics don’t show was her ability to stop opposing offenses when needed. Hoeppner killed a rally in the second game against U-Mary and retired the final 11 batters she faced in Game 1 against Minot State.
“I stared off not having the greatest pitching performances,” Hoeppner said. “I’m definitely coming around and I think my teammates are noticing that and it pumps them up and we just get going.”
Another performer who has helped get the Mustangs going on numerous occasions last weekend is Neely, who exploded for five RBI in Game 1 against U-Mary and had a total of eight runs driven in on the homestand.
She is batting .357 this year and has a team-high 16 RBI.
Neely’s hitting proved to be contagious last weekend, when the Mustangs saw eight different batters get at least one hit.
“When you get on a streak, you get on a streak, but she has just been on fire,” Dunn said. “She’s aggressive. Even if she fouls it off, she comes back and is ready to hit the next pitch. She’s finding good pitches in the zone and that’s what we’ve talked about. We needed that in the worst way.”
For U-Mary coach K.J. Kelley, the losses Sunday came down to a lack of execution and preparation.
“The first game we were flat,” Kelley said. “We didn’t show up and we deserved to get run-ruled. The second game, I tried to put a little spark into them and we started off well and then let off again. They scored some runs and never got the momentum back.”
One minor setback for the Mustangs came in Game 2 against Minot State, when Kaley Scearcy went out with an unspecified shoulder injury.
Scearcy is hitting .339 this year and has driven in seven RBI.
The Mustangs, who moved to 6-16 overall and 3-3 in conference play, will travel to Mankato to play Minnesota State at noon Tuesday.
SMSU 10, U-MARY 2
HITTING: U-Mary (Kristin Ormsby 1-for-2, double; Amber Gamboa 1-for-1, double, run; Alana Norman 1-for-3; Francine Villalobos 1-for-2, RBI; Julissa Perales run); SMSU (Rodenkirch 1-for-3, double, RBI; Neely 2-for-3, single, double, RBI, run; Reinsma 1-2, two runs; Johnson 2-2, three runs; Luttman 1-1, two runs)
PITCHING (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO): U-Mary (Erin Keen 3?-6-8-5-3-3; Melanie Rodriguez 1-2-2-2-4-1); SMSU (Hoeppner 5-4-2-1-1-1).
SMSU 4, U-Mary 3
HITTING: U-Mary (Julissa Perales 2-for-4, single, double, RBI; Taylor Mendez 2-for-3, single, double, two runs; Demaree Rodriguez 2-for-3 single, double, two RBI; Allison Brown 2-for-4, Alana Norman 1-for-4, run; Francine Villalobos 1-1); SMSU (Rodenkirch 2-for-3, single, double, run; Neely 2-for-3 single, double, run; Peterson 2-for-3, Carroll 1-for-3, Luttmann 1-for-2)
PITCHING (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO): U-Mary (Melanie Rodriguez 5?-7-4-3-1-2; Erin Keen ?-1-0-0-0-0); SMSU (O’Connor 3?-6-3-2-0-0; Hoeppner 3?-4-0-0-0-0).