UCCS Goes Big, Small in Sweep
COLORADO SPRINGS - The Mountain Lions showed Sunday that their offense can be a hit in either size - big or small.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs took advantage of big hitting to take the opener 9-3, then utilized classic small ball to win the second game 4-2 in a doubleheader sweep of the University of Mary Marauders at Mountain Lion Field.
The Mountain Lions (17-8) had 12 hits in the opener, including three home runs and two doubles. Sarah Cleland, who went 3-for-3 with three runs and four RBIs, had a double and a home run. Also going yard were Rachel Hancock and Tasha Pagdilao.
Game 2 was nearly a polar opposite. Neither of UCCS' two hits off of starter Sarah Moder left the infield and only five fly ball outs made it past the Marauders' first line of defense.
Knowing that Moder, who struck out 13 Mountain Lions in just over five innings Saturday, would be difficult to hit, UCCS went to its small-ball game in Sunday's second game, drawing six walks and stealing seven bases.
"(Moder) owned us yesterday," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "We put the ball in play today."
After UM put up a run in the top of the first, the Mountain Lions answered without the benefit of a base hit when Brianna Workman reached on an error, stole second and third, and then scored on Lindsay Shandera's sacrifice fly.
UCCS added three more opportunistic runs in the fourth inning. Shandera walked and moved to second on Tasha Pagdilao's infield single. After Katie Johnston walked to load the bases with one out, Nicole Link hit a two hopper to shortstop that accounted for both the Mountain Lions' second run and the inning's second out. The next batter, Jamey Acton, hit a spinning flair that corkscrewed out of second baseman Meghan Ward's glove for a two-run error.
While the offense was doing going small, left fielder Sierra Green was coming up big. The freshman from Longmont made a diving catch in the third inning to deny Kristi Wist of what would have been at least a leadoff double. In the fifth, Green reached over the fence to rob Leslie Benevidez of a three-run homer.
"(We got) great defense out of Sierra in left," said Peterson. "She made some great plays."
That was all the support UCCS pitcher Stacy Ortiz (8-5) would need. The freshman from Denver helped herself by retiring six of the seven leadoff hitters she faced. She scattered six hits and a walk.
Fellow freshman Libby White (9-3) was just as effective in the opener, allowing five hits and three walks.
"Good pitching won today," said Peterson.
Ortiz credited some of the success to a new drill UCCS has utilized recently during practice in which teammates stand at the plate and critique the pitches as they fly past.
"That really helped out a lot," said Ortiz. "It helped all of our pitchers pick up their game a little on the mental side. It made us more conscious of what we were doing."
Nicole Link, who was the designated player on Sunday but also doubles as the Mountain Lions' backup catcher, has noticed the difference.
"They've been working really hard and it's been showing," said Link. "They've been really working on their spins - their snaps - so the ball moves more."
Link was one of UCCS' hitting stars in the opener, going 2-for-2 with a walk. Sunday's games were the sophomore's first two starting assignments of the season.
"I wanted to get it done for my team and do my job when I get out there," she said "I was just really excited."
The Mountain Lions got on the scoreboard quickly in Game 1 as Hancock, the leadoff hitter, belted a solo home run. Later in the inning, Sarah Cleland added an RBI double. UCCS added two more in the third on Link's RBI double and Green's run scoring single.
Cleland added a three-run, two-out homer in the fourth and Pagdilao hit a two-run shot in the sixth.
"We hit in the first game, no doubt about it," said Peterson. "Our speed showed in that second game. We just put the ball in play and ran around a little bit."
I guess that's the long and the short of it.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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