Record Crowd Witnesses UCCS Return to Relevancy with Sweep
COLORADO SPRINGS -- The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs made itself relevant again in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoff picture Sunday with an 8-4, 8-5 sweep of the Regis Rangers at Mountain Lion Field.
To find hitting stars for UCCS, simply pick up a roster. Six players had two or more hits, led by Stacy Haney and Brianna Workman with four each, and five players had two or more RBIs. Katie Johnston hit two home runs, both in the opener, and Tasha Pagdilao hit a 290-foot, three-run homer in the nightcap.
"It was really incredible because everyone played as a team," said Workman. "Everyone contributed and everything happened when we needed it -- like (getting) the timely hits. It was a big day for everyone.
UCCS also got solid pitching. Libby White (5-6) allowed four runs, two earned, while striking out five in the opener. She was relieved by Sarah McCauley, who recorded the final four outs for her first career save. Stacy Ortiz (7-7) was again resilient, scattering 11 hits for the second consecutive day.
"We had great pitching," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "It looks like the pitching is getting there now. (Ortiz) pitched great; (White and McCauley) pitched great and that's what we needed."
A crowd of 343, a new school record, was on hand to witness the nightcap.
While winning three out of four against Regis this weekend allowed UCCS to leapfrog past Chadron State and Nebraska-Kearney in the standings, the Mountain Lions still need a Colorado Rockies-like closing run to sneak into the RMAC postseason tournament. UCCS is currently ninth at 15-19, trailing a trio of .500 teams for the eighth and final seed.
Of those three, Regis has the toughest road, with a 17-17 record and a four-game series at home against RMAC-leader Colorado School of Mines remaining on its schedule. Colorado State-Pueblo is also 17-17 with road games against Adams State (two on Wednesday) and a four-game weekend series against Western New Mexico which, at 18-18, is the third .500 team.
Should the Mountain Lions win out, there is no scenario that will keep them out of the playoffs. Five of the next six is also a pretty good bet. Anything else and UCCS will need considerable help. UCCS has a doubleheader against Mines on Wednesday at Mountain Lion Field, followed by a four game weekend series at Nebraska-Kearney.
Despite the odds, the swagger is back for UCCS. The Mountain Lions have the look of a team that's not just ready, but eager, to begin the chase.
"I think that everyone's really excited to do it; we all know we can," said Workman. "Today really helped prove that we can, now its just a matter of doing it."
A five-run fifth inning broke open Sunday's opener in UCCS' favor. A Johnston solo home run in the second, a Sarah Cleland RBI single in the third and another Johnston solo shot in the fourth had the Mountain Lions leading 3-2 after four.
Holly Jordan and Workman led off the fifth with singles off Regis starter Kaitlyn Gentert (13-8). A fielder's choice erased Jordan at third, but Workman scored when Cleland reached on an error. Johnston walked to load the bases before Amanda Hathaway was hit by a pitch to force in the second run. Cleland scored on a wild pitch before Sarah Brisky drilled a two-out, two-run single through the right side.
Regis scored two times on four hits in the sixth before McCauley relieved White and ended the threat.
A two-run homer by Amber Sivetts, who would hit two in the game, keyed a three-run Regis second inning, giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead. UCCS answered with three of its own in the bottom of the inning as Jordan hit a line drive single to right to bring one home and Haney followed with a two-run, two-out single.
Regis tied the game in the third with a four-hit inning. The damage could have been worse except Cleland, the UCCS shortstop, snagged a line drive off the bat of Chelsie Rademacher. Cleland's throw to first to double off Jackie Martinez was mishandled, but UCCS got her caught in a rundown when she slipped while trying to advance to second on the throw.
After a Cleland RBI single, Pagdilao's mammoth blast capped UCCS' four-run sixth to make it 8-4.
"She didn't miss any of that ball, that's for sure," said Peterson. "She needed that. We've had a couple of kids struggling and she was one of them. Hopefully, that's going to break her out."
Sivetts answered with a solo shot, but that was as much as Regis could get. Bianca Holley (6-9) took the loss.
It was the first time since March 8 that UCCS had swept a doubleheader.
"This just feels good," said Peterson. "We really needed this."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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