UCCS Softball Splits with Western New Mexico
COLORADO SPRINGS -- Sarah Cleland had a solo home run and two RBI singles to lift the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a 9-6 victory and salvage a split of Saturday's doubleheader against the Western New Mexico Mustangs at Mountain Lion Field.
The Mountain Lions (34-14, 22-11 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) lost Game 1 5-2 as the Mustangs' Brianne Grommon (15-8) threw a five-hit, nine-strikeout gem.
"She was hitting the corners really well," said UCCS right fielder Brianna Workman of Grommon.
Grommon threw fastballs over the outside edge of the plate and riseballs over the middle but above the batters' hands. Mix in the occasional inside pitch and she had the Mountain Lions swinging at balls out of the zone for much of the game.
"Their kid threw a really nice game," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "We just didn't adjust."
Stacy Haney's UCCS-record 21-game hitting streak came to an end when the junior from Littleton went 0-for-3 in the opener. The RMAC leader in eight statistical categories, Haney came back to go 2-for-2 with a double and two walks in the nightcap.
The split maintained the status quo in the RMAC standings pending the results of the CSU-Pueblo/Regis doubleheader. Western New Mexico (24-16, 21-10 RMAC) held on to second place with a .677 conference winning percentage. UCCS is third at .667.
The same two teams will play again Sunday starting at 11 a.m.
"Tomorrow's a big day for us," said Workman, who went a combined 3-for-5 with two runs and a stolen base. "We're coming to the end of our season and this will determine how we sit in the playoffs."
The split gives UCCS no margin for error going into Sunday's games. In order to pass the Mustangs in the standings going into the final week of the season, the Mountain Lions must sweep Sunday's doubleheader.
"We'll take the win," said Peterson Saturday. "Now we need to come back and get two tomorrow."
To get the sweep they need, the Mountain Lions will have to make some adjustments.
"They have a lot of strategies that we haven't seen. Things other teams haven't presented us with," said Workman. "With their defense, they try to get in the baselines and we're forced to do different things to get around them."
Besides obstructing the running lanes, the Mustangs also played their corner outfielders in the gaps, leaving the lines wide open. When they have runners on first and third, they intentionally try to get into rundowns between first and second in order to score the runner on a delayed steal.
After struggling offensively in Game 1, the Mountain Lions opened Game 2 with a four-run first inning. Lindsay Shandera started the rally with an RBI single and then scored on Tasha Pagdilao's two-run double. Katie Johnston's two-out single to left center scored Pagdilao.
Western New Mexico tied the game in the top of the second with the help of a run-scoring wild pitch and a two-run error.
UCCS responded in the bottom half of the inning. After Jamey Acton and Workman singled, Haney drilled a one-out double to score Acton. Workman scored when Shandera grounded out on a sizzling drive that deflected off the pitcher's glove but went directly to second baseman Debbie Yescas for the ground out. Cleland's single brought home Haney and gave the Mountain Lions a 7-4 lead.
After Courtney Reyes' two-run homer in the fourth cut the lead to one, Cleland answered with an RBI single off of WNMU starter Erica Beltran (9-3) in the bottom of the inning to make it 8-6. The Mustangs threatened again in the fifth and the seventh but UCCS pitcher Stacy Ortiz (16-7) worked out of bases-loaded, one out jams each time.
Cleland's solo home provided the final margin.
The Mountain Lions' 14 hits in the nightcap provided a welcome contrast to their Game 1 struggles. UCCS managed just four singles and a solo homer by Pagdilao, scoring its other run on a Rachel Hancock sacrifice fly.
Western New Mexico got a solo homer by Meredith Drahota in the third, followed by an RBI single and a run on a delayed double steal in the fourth. The Mustangs added two more runs in the seventh.
Libby White (18-7) took the loss.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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