It was a momentous afternoon for the Southwest Minnesota State softball team Friday, with the Mustangs picking up a pair of wins at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. SMSU earned a 3-2 nine-inning win over Wheeling Jesuit (W. Va.) before rallying to beat 10th-ranked Indiana (Pa.) 13-9.
In the first game against the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals, the Mustangs got a strong bounce-back performance from freshman pitcher Rachel Hoeppner. Hoeppner gave up seven runs on nine hits in 1 1/3 innings in a loss to Ferris State on Thursday, but earned a complete-game victory for the Mustangs on Friday.
Hoeppner shut out the Cardinals for the first seven innings, but WJU pitcher Ashley Nichols was also in a groove and SMSU was unable to score a run during the same span. The game went into extra innings, which were played under International Rules where a runner was placed at second base to start the eighth and ninth innings. Each team scored a run in the eighth inning, and after the Cardinals tacked on a run in the top of the ninth, SMSU ended the game thanks to RBI hits by Krista Steen and Amy Dreessen.
In nine innings of worked, Hoeppner gave up two runs on eight hits with one walk, one strikeout and one hit batter.
In SMSU's next game, the Mustangs exploded for a season-high 17 hits to defeat Indiana (Pa.). The two teams got things going at the plate early, with the Crimson Hawks scoring four runs in the second and five runs in the third to take a 9-7 lead going into the fourth.
With SMSU pitchers Chelsey Evans and Rachel Graff struggling to get outs, coach Missy Bruggeman gave the ball to Hoeppner to try to stem the tide. It worked, as Hoeppner threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings. She sat down nine straight batters before allowing a single in the bottom of the seventh, and struck out two batters in her relief appearance.
SMSU picked up one run in the fourth and two in the sixth two take a 10-9 lead. Freshman Shelbie Stoll, who had a season-high four hits, started SMSU's sixth-inning rally with a single and advanced on a groundout. After SMSU loaded the bases, Christine Borowiak eached on an error, was thrown out at second, but that allowed two Mustang runs to score. The team added three runs in the seven to seal the victory, which was the team's second over a ranked opponent at the Rebel Spring games.
Kris Penick added four hits in the game and scored two runs, while Ashley Gigax, Krista Steen, Kaley Searcy and Kately Kalkman each had two hits. Scearcy and Kalkmann also scored two runs.
The win was SMSU's third straight. The Mustangs improve to 7-3 with the two victories and will return to action Sunday against Wayne State (Mich.) and Northwood (Mich.).
WJU 000 000 011-2 8 1
SMSU 000 000 012-3 9 0
WJU-Ashley Nichols. SMSU-Rachel Hoeppner. WP-Hoeppner. LP-Nichols. SB: WJU-Heather Helfinstine; SMSU-Christine Borowiak. LOB: WJU 10; SMSU 7.
SMSU 115 102 3-13 17 4
IUP 045 000 0-9 7 2
SMSU-Chelsey Evans, Rachel Groff (3), Hoeppner (3). IUP-Kelly King, Alexa Campbell (7). 2B: SMSU-Shelbie Stoll; IUP-Jesa Mitchell, Mary Ward. SB: SMSU-Kris Penick.