Struggling to generate offense on Wednesday, the Southwest Minnesota State softball team dropped both games of a non-conference doubleheader against Wayne State College in Wayne, Neb. The Wildcats earned a 1-0 eight-inning victory in Game 1, then hit their stride offensively in an 11-3 victory in Game 2.
WSC improves to 12-8 overall after the victories, while SMSU falls to 9-7 after completing its regular season non-conference schedule on Wednesday.
The Wildcats also defeated the Mustangs last Saturday in a non-conference game, earning an 11-7 victory. SMSU pitcher Chelsey Evans struggled in the circle in that game, giving up 10 runs on 10 hits with three walks in 4 2/3 innings.
Evans took the mound for SMSU in Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader and had a better outing, although it didn't amount to a win for her team. Evans pitched all eight innings for SMSU, giving up the only run of the game in the bottom of the eighth on an two-out RBI single by Brittany Greenwood. Evans finished the game with four strikeouts and two walks, and she surrendered seven hits.
"She definitely threw a better game today," said SMSU head coach Missy Bruggeman. "She had a plan and attacked the batters.
"She shut them down, for the most part. She gave up a few hits, but she got the job done."
But SMSU's offense was unable to get the job done in the loss. WSC pitcher Sara Scheffert held the Mustangs hitless through the first four innings before Amy Dreessen led off the fifth with a single.
SMSU had a chance to take the lead in the seventh when Ashley Gigax and Krista Steen started out the inning with singles, but Bruggeman said a pair of baserunning errors by two freshmen prevented SMSU from pushing home the go-ahead run.
In Game 2, SMSU's freshman Rachel Hoeppner took the circle but only lasted 1 2/3 innings. In her brief appearance, Hoeppner gave up seven runs (six earned) on seven hits with two walks and no strikeouts.
Rachel Groff came on in relief of Hoeppner in the second inning. She didn't allow a run until the fifth when WSC pinch-hitter Kristen Martinson belted a grand slam to put the Wildcats up 11-3.
Hoeppner's loss dropped her record to 4-4. Bruggeman said Hoeppner's inconsistency in the circle has reflected the pitching staff's overall inconsistency.
"That's just the story of our pitching in general," Bruggeman said. "Consistency is something that's still yet to be found. If one pitcher goes out and does well, the next one seems to come in and struggle. We've got to get them to be more consistent."
The Mustangs had three hits in the Game 2 loss and a total of eight hits on the day. Christine Borowiak went 2-for-3 in the second game, posting a double and two RBIs. She also scored a run and stole a base.
SMSU opens Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference competition this weekend with four road games. The Mustangs will have a doubleheader Saturday against Bemidji State, then they will play a twinbill against Minnesota-Duluth on Sunday.
SMSU 000 000 00-0 5 0
WSC 000 000 01-1 7 0
SMSU-Chelsey Evans. WSC-Sara Scheffert. WP-Scheffert. LP-Evans. 2B: WSC-Dani Sandel, Vicki Nielsen. LOB: SMSU 4, WSC 9.
SMSU120 00-3 3 0
WSC340 04-11 10 0
SMSU-Rachel Hoeppner, Rachel Groff (2). WSC-Jordan Harris. HR: WSC-Kristen Martinson. 2B: SMSU-Christine Borowiak; WSC-Brittany Greenwood. LOB: SMSU 5, WSC 3.