UCCS Playoff Hopes Flickering but Not Extinguished After Split with Rangers
COLORADO SPRINGS - Lara Mathewson's two-run double and some alert baserunning helped the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to beat the Regis Rangers 4-3 in Sunday's opener and split the doubleheader between the teams at Mountain Lion Field.
Jenna Mott (7-6) threw another outstanding game for UCCS in the opener, allowing just two earned runs on 10 hits. Regis' Nikki Haberkorn was outstanding in game 2, leading the Rangers to a 7-2 win.
Mathewson finished the day 3-for-7 with two doubles and had three of the Mountain Lions' four RBIs. The other belonged to Caitlyn Connelly, who had two hits in as many at bats. Megan McGinnis had a hit and a walk in two plate appearances.
The Mountain Lions came out of the weekend with a 12-23 record in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play (15-29 overall). Regis (17-25, 14-22 RMAC) and Nebraska-Kearney (11-16 RMAC) are two of the three teams the Mountain Lions must catch to sneak into the conference postseason playoffs.
The scenarios are still a little complicated, but will become much less so after Nebraska-Kearney completes its doubleheader against Chadron State on Tuesday and Adams State plays three against CSU-Pueblo on Wednesday. Should the Lopers lose both, then UCCS would need to win three out of four against UNK next weekend to go ahead in the standings. If the Lopers split against Chadron State, then only a UCCS sweep will vault them past them.
Adams State has seven remaining games, four against Mesa State and three against CSU-Pueblo. Four Aams State wins eliminated the Mountain Lions, regardless of their results at Kearney. Three Grizzlies wins means UCCS must sweep to pass them, while two wins would allow UCCS to pass them by winning three.
Then there's Regis. Having missed the golden opportunity to pass the Rangers on Sunday, UCCS must now get two wins more than Regis, which plays a four-game set against Colorado School of Mines. In other words, if UCCS sweeps UNK, then Regis must win no more than two against Mines. If UCCS wons three times, Regis can only win once.
Like I said: complicated.
"We've been playing .500 since Metro," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "Unfortunately, we were playing .200 before then. That's what's put us in the situation we're in."
A UCCS error helped Regis load the bases with one out in the second inning of Sunday's opener, setting up Amber Aragon-Autobee's two-run double. Mott was able to minimize the damage by inducing a comebacker from the dangerous Alisa Heronema and a foul out by Shannon Massine.
That ability to stop the bleeding proved valuable in the home half of the third. Erin Milburn walked and McGinnis singled to lead off the frame, were sacrificed over by Landry Davis and scored on Mathewson's double to the fence in left center.
Mott pulled the Houdini act again in the fifth as Regis put the first two batters on base and got them into scoring position with a double steal. Mott got out of it with a shallow fly ball, a comebacker and a long fly to left that was tracked down on the run by McGinnis. Mott stranded 10 Ranger baserunners.
The Mountain Lions took their first lead with an unusual rally in the sixth. Jessika Anastos and Christina Blanton started it with back-to-back singles and both advanced into scoring position on a double steal. The next batter, Ashley Jordan, hit a grounder back to pitcher Bianca Holley (9-13), who had Anastos caught in a rundown between third and home. But Holley held the ball just a fraction too long, allowing Anastos to dive for home. Holley's throw was both late and off target as Anastos collided with Heronema and managed to touch the plate as the ball rolled away harmlessly.
With two outs and runners on the corners, pinch runner Melissa DeWitt took off from first with the intent of getting herself in a rundown so that Ashley Jordan could score from third. Heronema's throw to second short-hopped shortstop Breanna Backlund, who was covering second on the play. As the ball slipped away from Backlund, Jordan alertly sprinted home to make it 4-2.
Regis made one more charge. Natalie Adami smacked a one-out double to score Backlund. Adami got to third on a fly out before Mathewson made an acrobatic play at second to barely retire Emily Anderson to end the game.
Haberkorn came into the weekend with a 7.28 ERA and a .334 batting average against, but was able to tie UCCS hitters in knots in the second game. Both UCCS runs were unearned, giving the sophomore from Denver a 0.57 ERA over 12 1/3 innings for the series.
"Nikki threw a good game," said Peterson. "She made an adjustment somewhere because her ERA's higher than the amount of hits we got."
The Rangers had no such trouble against UCCS pitching in Sunday's second game. Adami's first-inning double brought in the first run. A sacrifice fly by Mo McDaniel and an RBI single by Maegan Cooley in the third made it 3-0. Cooley added another run-scoring single that, combined with a run scoring on a wild pitch, made it 5-1.
That first UCCS run came on an RBI single by Caitlyn Connelly in the fourth inning. The Mountain Lions added another on an RBI double by Mathewson an inning later.
Regis added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh to clinch the win.
UCCS starter Stacy Ortiz (5-14) allowed three runs on seven hits over three innings. Sarah McCauley and Mott each surrendered two runs in two innings of relief work.
Aragon-Autobee was the hitting star for Regis, going a combined 4-for-7. Aragon Autobee, McDaniel, Adami and Cooley each had two RBIs.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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