MARSHALL - A pair of comeback victories Sunday against Minnesota State-Moorhead helped the Southwest Minnesota State softball team complete a perfect 4-0 weekend in the Mustangs' first homestand of the season.
SMSU was held scoreless through the first four innings of Game 1 of Sunday's doubleheader against the Dragons before striking for three runs in the fifth on its way to a 4-1 win. In Game 2, the Mustangs overcame an early 4-1 deficit and scored seven runs in the fifth inning to earn a 12-4 victory.
The Mustangs defeated Minnesota-Crookston twice on Saturday, winning Game 1 5-4 and taking Game 2 11-3.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Southwest Minnesota State center fielder Shelby Stoll, center, slides into second base for a steal while Minnesota State-Moorhead’s Taylor Huss, right applies the tag late and Moriah Burns looks on during Game 2 of Sunday’s Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader at Mustang Field in Marshall. Stoll had three hits and four RBIs in the Mustangs’ 12-4 victory.
Both the Dragons and Golden Eagles are in the bottom half of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference standings, and SMSU head coach Missy Bruggeman said her team did well to take take advantage of its opportunity to pick up four conference wins.
"It's always nice to walk away from the weekend with a couple of sweeps," Bruggeman said. "I think both teams we played have a lot of potential and are going to get better through the rest of the season.
"We've got a tough schedule coming up, so it's a good way for us to go into that tough schedule."
UMC000 002 0-2 4 0
SMSU200 003 X-5 9 3
UMC-Stacey Marcum. SMSU-Chelsey Evans. 3B: SMSU-Kasey Eichten. 2B: UMC-Paige Schaust. SB: SMSU-Christine Borowiak, Kris Penick, Shelby Stoll. LB: UMC 8; SMSU 5.
UMC020 001-3 7 5
SMSU310 106-11 14 2
UMC-Kelli Burns, Marcum (6). SMSU-Rachel Hoeppner. WP-Hoeppner. LP-Burns. 2B: SMSU-Borowiak, Morgan Peterson. SB: SMSU-Penick. LOB: UMC 6; SMSU 8.
MSUM010 000 0-1 6 0
SMSU000 031 X-4 5 0
MSUM-Brandi Howell. SMSU-Evans. WP-Evans. LP-Howell. 2B: MSUM-Moriah Burns, Taylor Huss. SB: SMSU-Katelyn Kalkman. LOB: MSUM 8, SMSU 4.
MSUM202 00-4 4 5
SMSU103 17-12 14 1
MSUM-Amanda Lynch, Alexa D'Onofrio (3), Howell (5). SMSU-Hoeppner, Rachel Groff. WP-Groff. LP-D'Onofrio. HR: MSUM-Amanda Moore. 2B: MSUM-M. Bronson; SMSU-Borowiak, Kaley Scearcy, Krista Steen. SB: SMSU-Penick, Stoll. LOB: MSUM 3, SMSU 8.
The wins move the Mustangs to 16-10 overall and 7-3 in the NSIC. Minnesota-Crookston sits at 3-7 in the conference, while MSU-Moorhead is 1-9 in NSIC action.
It took SMSU awhile to get going in Game 1 against the Dragons on a windy Sunday afternoon. MSU-Moorhead pitcher Brandi Howell held the Mustangs to just one hit over the first four innings. Fortunately for the Mustangs, their pitcher was on points as well. Chelsey Evans gave up a run in the second inning, but she didn't allow a run in any of her other six innings of work. She finished the game with two strikeouts and two walks with six hits allowed.
"Chelsey came in and threw a pretty good game for us," Bruggeman said. "I'd say she was a little tentative coming out the first two innings, but as the game progressed she was a little more within herself and threw a lot better and started to shut their hitters down a bit."
With Evans keeping the team in the game, the SMSU offense gave her some support in the fifth by scoring three runs on three hits. Amy Dreessen and Krista Steen each walked to start the inning and Kaley Scearcy moved the runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt.
Katelyn Kalkman knocked in SMSU's first run with a bunt to score Alysse Luttman, who pinch-ran for Dreessen. Kalkman then stole second base before Sam Goblirsch singled to left to score Steen and put SMSU up 2-1. Goblirsch was caught stealing second, but that allowed Kalkman to score from third and give SMSU a two-run lead.
SMSU tacked on a fourth run in the bottom of the sixth when Scearcy hit an RBI single to left field to score Megan Peterson.
Freshman pitcher Rachel Hoeppner took the circle for SMSU in Game 2 and got off to a shaky start. She allowed gave up a pair of runs in the first inning when the Dragons' Amanda Moore belted a two-run home over the wall in right field.
SMSU pulled within a run in the bottom of the first when, after leading the inning off with her ninth double of the season, Christine Borowiak scored on an error by the MSU-Moorhead shortstop.
Hoeppner got through the second inning unscathed, but the Dragons struck again in the top of the third when Miranda Bronson knocked home two runs with a double to right field. Bruggeman went to relief pitcher Rachel Groff after that, and Groff went three innings without giving up a run or a hit.
SMSU bounced back in the bottom of the third, tying the game with three runs on three hits. After a single by Scearcy and walk by Dreessen, Steen hit a single to center to load the bases. A wild pitch allowed Scearcy to score and the other two runners to move up, and freshman Shelby Stoll beat out an infield single to score Dreessen, and Steen was able to cross the plate on the throw.
Stoll finished the game 3-for-4 with four RBIs. She also had a stolen base and was a key figure in SMSU's comeback bid.
"It's a freshman coming in and all you can ask for is that they compete," said Bruggeman of Stoll. "She's definitely a competitor, not just in game situations, but in practice. Every day she's one that you look for to set the tone for your team and she did a great job coming out today and proving what she really is."
SMSU went up 5-4 in the fourth after an RBI double by Scearcy. The Mustangs added seven runs on five hits and two errors in the bottom of the fifth to score seven runs and end the game with the eight-run rule.
Scearcy had three hits, scored two runs and knocked in two runs in the Game 2 win. Borowiak, Kris Penick and Steen each had two hits.
The Mustangs resume conference play Tuesday with a road doubleheader against Wayne State College. The Mustangs are 0-3 in games against the Wildcats this season, all of which have been on the road.
"Wayne, that'll be a good matchup for us. I think we have a something to prove against them," Bruggeman said. "We played a couple good games against them and then one game that wasn't good. Coming out fired up and ready to go with that first series will be important."