Cleland Punishes Screwball in UCCS Sweep

By Doug Fitzgerald published March 18, 2006

COLORADO SPRINGS â€" The moral to this story is never throw a screwball to a screwball.

Sarah Cleland hit a clutch, three-run home run to lift the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a 4-2 win in the opening game of Saturdayâ€TMs doubleheader against the Montana State-Billings Yellowjackets at Mountain Lion Field.

The Mountain Lions carried the momentum into the nightcap, where they parlayed a six-run first inning into a 10-2 victory in the second game.

“We threw one screwball all game and (Cleland) hit it out,” said MSU-Billings coach Sean McGary. “Sheâ€TMs a really good hitter.”

Maybe the Yellowjackets should have picked on someone else. Using the principle of ‘it takes one to know one,â€TM Cleland might have had an unfair advantage since sheâ€TMs, well, kind of a screwball.

“We all pretty much expect that sheâ€TMs a goofy kid,” said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. “Sheâ€TMs very loose and never tight.”

“Sheâ€TMs just having a good time,” added shortstop Savannah Ledford.

Cleland, meanwhile, was mum on the subject. The sophomore from Erie, Colo., has an aversion to bragging and usually spends most of her interview time giggling at the interviewer. Perhaps sheâ€TMs amended Teddy Rooseveltâ€TMs famous credo to “laugh softly and carry a big stick.”

“(The pitch) was right down the middle,” said Cleland between chuckles. “It was a 3-2 count and it was my chance to get RBIs.”

By Clelandâ€TMs standards, thatâ€TMs mighty close to boastful. Nevertheless, the sweep helped UCCSâ€TM improve to a school-record 15-1.

Amanda Ritchie (7-1) struck out 11 MSU-Billings batters in the opener. The senior from Machesney Park, Ill., allowed only four balls to leave the infield.

The Mountain Lions had been frustrated by MSU-Billings starter Lisa Moore (4-7) until the fourth inning. With one out, Brittni Carlson singled to left and Janine Ota walked. Cleland followed with her blast to center field that put UCCS up 3-1. Three batters later, Megan Cushman hit a sacrifice fly to the center field warning track to extend the lead to three.

The Mountain Lions experienced no such frustration in the nightcap. In the first inning, Carlson, Ota and Cleland all drove in runs before Sonia Reyes drilled a two-out, three-run homer off of starter Terina Stacks (0-6).

“Our bats werenâ€TMt there in the first game,” said sophomore Sarah Brisky, who went 2-for-2 with a home run. “We all knew we had to step it up because these are big games for us. Our big goal was to get on the board early.”

Freshman Kym Cade (3-0) made sure the lead held up. The Faith Christian High School graduate allowed two runs, one earned, while striking out five.

“I was making my pitches work and I was hitting my spots today,” said Cade, who entered the game with a 5.06 ERA and left it at 4.26. “I definitely felt a lot more relaxed this game than all the other games. I feel like Iâ€TMm getting in the zone and my confidence level is going up.”

The Mountain Lions added two runs in the second on a Carlson RBI double and Ledfordâ€TMs run-scoring single. Brisky added her first career home run, a solo shot, in the third.

“It was the first one ever,” said Brisky of her blast. “It was a testament to how hard this team pushes me to work every day. I work a lot on my own and I work with coach Brian (Millikan) a lot.”

Lindsay Shanderaâ€TMs bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth ended the game by way of the NCAAâ€TMs run rule.

Before Saturday, MSU-Billings had been run-ruled only three times and two of those came at the hands of ranked opponents. It was the eighth time UCCS had forced the run-rule into effect.

The Yellowjackets fell to 7-16 on the season, but six of those losses have come against teams that are among, or were among at the time they played, the nationâ€TMs Top 25.

Carlson and Ledford each went 3-for-6 to lead UCCS hitters.

“It just goes to show that if you work hard, good things will happen,” said Brisky.

And remember to watch out for screwballs.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32IFFr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson321BSo.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFJr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFSR.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes13IFSo.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes133BJr.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes133BSR
Megan CushmanMegan Cushman5OF/CFr.
Megan CushmanMegan Cushman5OF/CSo.
Megan CushmanMegan Cushman5OF/CSo.
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14CJr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Kym CadeKym Cade9P
Savannah LedfordSavannah Ledford24SS
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