Seven Hours Later, UCCS and Mesa Settle for Split
GRAND JUNCTION -- The University of Colorado at Colorado at Colorado Springs and the Mesa State Mavericks played just under seven hours of softball Saturday, settling for a doubleheader split at Bergman Field.
The loss, combined with Western New Mexico's split with Colorado State-Pueblo, put an end to the Mountain Lions' already paper-thin hopes of earning a top-two seed in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament; the consequence of which is that UCCS will not get a first-round bye in the six-team playoff.
And Saturday was a perfect illustration of why the bye would have been so helpful. With pitching ace Libby White sidelined with injuries, UCCS coach Scott Peterson threw No. 2 pitcher Stacy Ortiz in Game 1, while reserve infielder Kelly Quinn pitched in a collegiate game for the first time in Game 2.
Not surprisingly, the Mountain Lions won Game 1 10-9 and lost Game 2 16-12.
The two teams, which are ranked Nos. 1-2 nationally in home runs, combined for 59 hits and 24 walks but only four long balls.
The opener was a 12-inning, 4 hour, 24 minute marathon that featured a controversial ending. With UCCS leading 10-9 in the bottom of the 12th inning, Mesa State had the bases loaded with one out. Designated player Samantha Griego grounded into to UCCS third baseman Katie Johnston, who threw Kristen Silva out at home. Griego, however, had been pinch run for in the 11th inning and, when she came plate in the 12th she was not properly reentered by the Mesa State coaching staff. As a consequence, she was called out at first base, ending the game.
The Mavericks (26-13, 24-9 RMAC) stranded 17 runners in the opener as Ortiz (17-9) pitched her way out of multiple jams.
Sarah Cleland hit a three-run homer for the Mountain Lions, while Lindsay Shandera added a two-run shot. Rachel Hancock and Sarah Brisky each went 3-for-6.
In Game 2, the Mountain Lions started Quinn at pitcher and the results were, well, exactly what you'd expect when forced to start a reserve infielder at pitcher. The Mavericks hung 12 runs in the first three innings, 10 charged to Quinn and two to Brenna Wells.
Incredibly, UCCS was able to stay within striking distance. Stacy Haney, who leads the nation in RBIs, drove in one with a single in the first and two more with a double in the second. Thanks in part to Haney's clutch hitting, the Mountain Lions were within four after three innings despite Mesa State's prolific output.
After the Mavericks extended their lead to 14-8, UCCS scored four in the top of the sixth on RBI singles by Sierra Green and Cleland and a two-run single by Johnston.
But that was as close as the Mountain Lions would get.
The same teams will meet again Sunday beginning at 11 a.m.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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