UCCS Belts Eight Homers in Sweep of CSU-Pueblo
COLORADO SPRINGS - The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball team hit eight home runs Wednesday night, including three by Lindsay Shandera and a grand slam by freshman Katie Johnston, to score a 9-1, 14-0 sweep of the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves at Mountain Lion Field.
Shandera homered twice in the first game and once in the second. Stacy Haney went deep twice in the first game, while Rachel Hancock did the same in the second. Johnston's bomb came in the fourth inning of Game 2.
"I was just seeing the ball well," said Shandera, who went a combined 4-for-6 with five RBIs. "I worked on my hitting a lot this week - some mental stuff - and I was really confident."
With the wins, UCCS nearly wrapped up the Steel and Silver Series for 2006-07. The Mountain Lions now lead the rivalry series between the schools 18-8, and with single points available in two remaining golf tournaments and five points for academics, only the remote potential of multiple meetings in the RMAC softball tournament prevents CSU-Pueblo from being mathematically eliminated.
The sweep also provided a little payback for UCCS, which was beaten badly when the teams played in Pueblo on March 7.
"We came out fired up," said Shandera. "We hadn't showed them how UCCS hits when we played them earlier in the season. We were out there to make a statement."
They not only made a statement, they also made a move in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference standings. The Mountain Lions (28-9, 18-6 RMAC), who have won six straight and 13 of their past 14, moved into second place in the standings, behind only Mesa State. CSU-Pueblo (16-8, 14-6 RMAC) slipped from second to fourth.
UCCS starter Libby White (15-3) dominated in Game 1, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out a career-high seven batters. White also tied the UCCS record for wins by a freshman.
Stacy Ortiz (13-6) was less dominant in Game 2 but showed amazing resiliency. She allowed three hits and walked six in the run-rule shortened, five-inning game, but left all nine runners stranded. Ortiz also struck out seven.
"We knew coming into tonight that we had to hit because of what (CSU-Pueblo) did to us last time," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "We did.
"The pitching was just a bonus. Stacy and Libby pitched two great games."
Ortiz's performance continued a positive trend for the freshman. In recent weeks she has shown a propensity for getting out of jambs, something she struggled with earlier this season.
"We've been working on that the past couple of weeks," said UCCS pitching coach Don Pettrow. "I went out there twice and said 'don't be afraid. Go after them. Make them hit your pitch instead of you hitting their spots.'"
Haney was 3-for-5 with six RBIs. Haney, who is third nationally with 1.78 RBIs per game, now has 66 RBIs for the season, just four behind the school record set by Crystal Krebs in 2005.
"I'm really confident at the plate right now," said Haney. "All the girls who are getting on base before me are making it possible."
Perhaps more impressive than Haney's hitting was a spectacular catch she made in the sixth inning of the first game. Jennifer Papik belted a deep fly to center field only to see Haney rob her of a home run with a leap high above the fence.
"I knew it was a deep fly ball and I had to get back to the fence," said Haney. "I just climbed it and (the ball) landed in my glove."
The Thunderwolves' only run on the day came, appropriately, on a solo homer by Papik in the fourth inning of Game 1.
Breanna Hedstrom (8-4) took the loss in Game 1, while Kelsey Swanberg (8-4) was beaten in Game 2.
Shandera hit a two-run shot in the first inning to open the scoring in the first game and Haney launched a three-run shot in the third to make it 5-0. The two went back-to-back in the sixth, followed by a Tasha Pagdilao RBI double to increase the margin to 8-1. The Mountain Lions brought the run rule into play in the sixth when Sierra Green singled, stole second and scored when Papik's overthrow was mishandled by center fielder Jeanna Barnes.
Game 2 was a model of offensive efficiency as UCCS scored 14 runs while stranding just one runner. Additionally, eight of the runs scored with two outs.
Five of the six games played between UCCS and CSU-Pueblo this season have been shortened by the NCAA's run rule, with UCCS winning three and CSU-Pueblo two. The only non-run rule was a 4-1 UCCS win on Feb. 10.
UCCS plays a four-game series at Nebraska-Kearney with doubleheaders scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Wednesday's dominant performance sent the Mountain Lions' confidence sky high - a good thing to have going into yet another series with heavy playoff implications.
"It's awesome," said Haney. "We have momentum on our side and we're playing well on all three areas: pitching hitting and defense."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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