USD softball comes up big in the first round

USD softball comes up big in the first round
The University of South Dakota softball team downed the fifth-ranked team in the region, Northwest Missouri State, 6-5 in the first game of the Northwest Classic before falling to Truman State 5-1 in the nightcap. The Coyotes move to 14-26 with the split.

USD got on the board first in the opener against the Bearcats in the top of the second when senior leftfielder Stephanie Bergman (Ithaca, NE) traded places with freshman pitcher Tiffany Mockenhaupt (Lincoln, NE) with a one-out double to center. The Coyotes extended their lead to 2-0 in the next inning when Mockenhaupt lift a sacrifice fly to left that allowed junior third baseman Krystal Kirwan (Omaha, NE) to score.

Northwest Missouri State evened the score with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third, though the damage could have been much worse as Mockenhaupt navigated her way out of a one-out, bases loaded jam after the score became 2-2. The Coyotes regained the lead in the top of the fifth, starting with a one-out single by Mockenhaupt that plated Kirwan. Freshman catcher Rachel Fricke (Monroe, NE) followed with a single up the middle that sent junior designated player Abby Poulter (Colfax, IA) and Mockenhaupt, pushing the score to 5-2.

The Bearcats wasted little time in tying the score once again as they responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, evening the affair at 5-5. That is where the score remained until the top of the seventh when Fricke blasted her fourth home run of the season to centerfield, a solo shot that made the score 6-5.

Northwest had its 3-4-5 hitters up to lead-off the bottom of the seventh, and it made things interesting by loading the bases with two away. However, sophomore pitcher Tagney Jones (Lincoln, Neb.), who took over to start the sixth inning, was able to induce a groundout to second to end the game and secure the victory for the Coyotes.

Mockenhaupt started at pitcher and lasted five innings and allowing six hits, five runs (all earned) and four walks while striking out four while receiving a no-decision. Jones pitched the final two innings in recording the victory, improving to 6-15 on the year, in issuing two walks and striking out one while not yielding a hit.

Fricke led the South Dakota offense with a 2-4 effort while driving in three runs, including her eventual game-winning homer. Mockenhaupt went 2-3 with a double, a pair of RBIs and two runs scored, while Kirwan was 2-4 with a double and a pair of runs to her credit.

In the second game of the day, Truman State jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after two innings, and added two more runs in the top of the fifth push the score to 5-0. USD averted the shutout in the bottom of the seventh when Bergman singled home Jones, but that proved to be the final run of the game as the Bulldogs held on for the 5-1 victory.

Jones went 2-3 with a run scored, which was South Dakota's only multi-hit effort against Truman State. She also went the distance on the mound, allowing 11 hits, five runs (all earned) and three walks in falling to 6-16 with the loss.

The Coyotes will continue play in the Northwest Classic with three more games. USD faces Fort Hays State at 9 a.m., Northwest Missouri State at 11 a.m. and Truman State at 1 p.m.

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