NCAA SOFTBALL: Marathon Mustangs

MARSHALL – By the time Game 2 of a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader between Southwest Minnesota State and St. Cloud State had ended, what started as a sunny afternoon had turned into a blustery evening.

The Huskies and the Mustangs went 15 innings in the second game to end in a 1-1 tie after the Mustangs scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the first game 7-5.

Fifteen full innings marked the second longest game in SMSU softball history. The longest was a 16-inning affair in 2011 against Augustana, which the Mustangs lost 2-1.

Since there are no lights at Mustang field, a decision was made to end the game in a tie because of darkness after a lengthy discussion of the umpires.

The decision to bring Game 2 to a halt with the score deadlocked was a stomach-churning decision.

“It’s very disappointing to walk away with a tie,” Mustangs coach Jamie Dunn said after the league twin-bill. “It’s a lot of effort to put into it and we came away without gaining anything. We didn’t lose anything, but we didn’t gain anything either.”

While the discussion was taking place, the Mustangs were warming up, ready to go.

Player safety came into play.

“We definitely wanted to keep going,” SMSU third baseman Kaley Scearcy said. “The umpires were worried about the light. We were ready to take them on another inning.”

A tie is also something that Huskies coach Paula U’Ren, who is in her 17th season at St. Cloud State, wasn’t accustomed to seeing.

It was a first in her coaching career.

“It’s tough because both teams wanted to win that game,” U’Ren said. It’s tough to just stop. I’ve been coaching 20 years and never coached to a tie.”

The Mustangs’ Rachel Hoeppner pitched all 15 innings in the marathon and struck out 11 while walking just one.

Hoeppner pitched four innings in the opening game before being relieved by Alex O’Connor, who picked up the victory.

Offensively, Scearcy led the team with three RBI on three hits for the afternoon.

The Mustangs also got two RBI from Jazmyne Neely and one RBI each from Karmann Carroll and Alysse Luttman.

In the first game, Dunn was impressed with the way her team was able to rally and dig out of the hole.

“The first game, we played really well,” Dunn said. “We had to come from behind, which is good. We had been struggling with that. That was really big for our kids. In the second game, we just couldn’t push runs across when we needed to. We, literally, ran out of daylight.”

The Mustangs will take on Minnesota-Duluth today in a doubleheader with the first game set to start at 12 p.m.

Game 1

SMSU 7, SCSU 5

The Huskies held a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth when the Mustangs broke the game wide open.

Scearcy put the Mustangs on the board with a bases-loaded single that brought in two runs and that was followed by a double by Neely that brought in two more runs.

Karmann Carroll added the fifth run of the inning on an RBI bunt before Luttman brought in a run with a single and Carroll was able to steal home.

The Huskies answered quickly in the sixth with a home run off the bat of Megan Larkin, to cut the score to 7-5.

O’Connor, who took over for Hoeppner in the fifth, stopped the St. Cloud State attack and picked up the win.

Game 2

SMSU 1, SCSU 1 (15)

St. Cloud State put up its run in the second on a fielding error that saw the ball sail over the head of first basemen Jennifer Johnson.

The Mustangs answered in the sixth on a Scearcy single that scored Chelsey Rodenkirch.

Game 1

SMSU 7, ST. CLOUD STATE 5

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HITTING: St. Cloud State (Tricia DeBoer 1-for-4, double, run; Megan Lehnen 1-for-3, double, run, walk, stolen base; Breana Canova 3-for-3, three singles, two runs, hit-by-pitch; Rebecca Harps 0-for-3, RBI; Kelsie Fitch 2-for-3, single, double, two RBI, hit-by-pitch; Megan Larkin 1-for-2, home run, RBI, run; Stephanie Roan 0-for-2, walk); SMSU (Chelsey Rodenkirch 0-for-3, run, hit-by-pitch; Elissa Reinsma 1-for-4, single, run; Kaley Scearcy 2-for-4, two singles, run; Jazmyne Neely 1-for-4, double, two RBI, run; Kailey Hanson 1-for-3, single; Jennifer Johnson 0-for-1, walk, hit-by-pitch; Karmann Carroll 1-for-2, single, RBI, run, hit-by-pitch, stolen base; Alysse Luttmann 1-for-2, single, RBI, run, hit-by-pitch, stolen base).

PITCHING (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO): St. Cloud State (Kelly Franks 4 1/3-4-6-6-1-3; Kendra Merritt 1 2/3-3-1-1-0-1); SMSU (Rachel Hoeppner 4-6-4-4-0-2; Alex O’Connor 3-2-1-1-2-2).

Game 2

SMSU 1, SCSU 1, 15 INNINGS

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HITTING: St. Cloud State (Tricia DeBoer 3-for-6, three singles, hit-by-pitch; Breana Canova 1-for-5, single, walk, run; Kelsie Fitch 1-for-5, single; Abby Bunnell 1-for-3, single; Alyssa Coletto 1-for-6, double; Megan Lakin 2-for-6, two singles; Jessica Goerger 1-for-1, single); SMSU (Chelsey Rodenkirch, 3-for-5, three singles, run, two walks; Elissa Reinsma 2-for-6, two singles, Kaley Scearcy 1-for-7, single; Shelbie Stoll 1-for-4, single, two walks; Alysse Luttmann 1-for-5, single).

PITCHING (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO): St. Cloud State (Senna Francesconi 6-4-1-1-1-6; Kendra Merritt 1 1/3-1-0-0-1-0; Kelly Franks 7 2/3-3-0-0-2-7); SMSU (Rachel Hoeppner 15-10-1-0-1-11).