UCCS Sweeps on Day One of Pueblo Tourney
PUEBLO - Stacy Haney drove home eight runs and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' freshman pitchers combined to allow just one run as the Mountain Lions won their first two games CSU-Pueblo Icebreaker Tournament Saturday.
UCCS (4-0) beat Fort hays State 9-0 in five innings in the morning game. They came back in the afternoon to top host Colorado State-Pueblo 4-1.
"I thought we played well," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "The defense played well. I was surprised at how good our timing was since we haven't gotten outside much."
Haney hit two home runs and drove in seven of the Mountain Lions' nine runs in a shutout victory over Fort Hays State in the Morning game. The junior, who transferred to UCCS from Lamar Junior College, hit two three-run shots and a sacrifice fly.
"That's pretty intense," said Haney when told of her stats on the day. "In the past, I haven't been that much of an RBI hitter."
That observation came with an explanation.
"I used to be a leadoff hitter," said Haney. "Coach moved me into the three hole this year. That's what a three hitter does, bring in RBIs.
"I was just feeling it. It was a good game for me."
Stacy Ortiz (2-0) was also feeling it. The freshman threw a five-inning, two-hit shutout, giving her nine scoreless innings to start the season. No Tiger runner advanced past first base.
Haney's homer gave the Mountain Lions a three-run first inning. UCCS scored 27 runs combined in the first inning of its first three games.
The morning game was a show of dominance. The afternoon was a display of defense.
Libby White (2-0) was the beneficiary of several outstanding defensive plays in the second game. She scattered five hits and five walks in holding arguably the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's best offense to just a single run.
"The strong defense kept my confidence level high," said White.
That defense started in the second inning. After the Thunderwolves loaded the bases with one out, CSU-Pueblo coach Shane Showalter called for Dominique Hernandez to lay down a squeeze bunt. White's pitch was outside and in the dirt, making it impossible for Hernandez to make contact. UCCS catcher Tasha Pagdilao not only smothered the pitch, but also alertly sprinted toward third to tag out Jennifer Papik, who had broken for home on the play. Hernandez struck out on the next pitch to end the inning.
That White remained unflappable in the face of the threat would seem unusual for a freshman. She says such situations suit her fine, though.
"I just work better under pressure," said White. "I become a better pitcher. I focus more on my spots and concentrate more on getting that groundball out."
Shortstop Sarah Cleland turned in a defensive gem in the fourth. With one out and a runner on first, the junior from Erie ranged far to her left to snag Bonita Nuanez's sharp one-hopper. Cleland fielded the ball, stepped on second and rifled the ball to first to complete the double play.
In the sixth inning, CSU-Pueblo had runners on first and second with one out. Pagdilao alertly threw behind pinch runner Stephanie Fraterelli at second for the pickoff. Jeanna Barnes struck out to end the threat.
The final gem came when left fielder Sierra Green went horizontal to stab Katie Johnson's line drive down the line.
"Sierra's play in the bottom of the seventh was huge," said Peterson.
While UCCS' defense did a great job of thwarting the Thunderwolves' ability to hit in the clutch, it was just such clutch hitting that marked the Mountain Lions' offense. After Brianna Workman and Haney got on base in the fourth, Lindsay Shandera and Cleland came through with consecutive RBI singles. Two batters later, Katie Johnston added a sacrifice fly to give UCCS a 3-0 lead.
After CSU-Pueblo scored its lone run in the bottom half of the inning, the Mountain Lions immediately answered with a manufactured run. Rachel Hancock led off the fifth with a double, was sacrificed to third by Workman and scored on Haney's groundout to the right side.
The Mountain Lions will face defending RMAC champion Regis Sunday at 10 a.m. The four teams will then play a single-elimination tournament with games at noon and 2 p.m.
While Peterson was pleased with the effort, he knows that early season bragging rights have little real value.
"It's a long season," said Peterson. "We can't really gauge too much on this but it was fun to watch."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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