Mountain Lions Feel at Home Indoors, Win First Game of Crossover Tournament
ROCHESTER, Minn. - Jessica Belsterling and a pair of unlikely RBI producers turned the Mountain Lions' first-ever indoor softball game into an unqualified success.
Belsterling pitched a complete game and hit a two-run home run while Landry Davis and Kailey Hernandez each drove in a pair of runs to lead the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a 9-2 victory over the Minnesota State Mavericks Friday at the RCTC Dome.
It was the first game of the NSIC/RMAC Crossover Tournament, which pits teams from NCAA Division II's two Central region Conferences, the Northern Sun and the Rocky Mountain Athletic, against each other.
"I think we got the RMAC off to a good start," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson.
It's a good bet that the UCCS win will raise some eyebrows. Minnesota State was 36-15 in 2010 and was picked fourth in the NSIC's preseason coaches' poll. UCCS went 16-32 a year ago and was picked eighth in the RMAC's preseason poll.
All of which meant exactly squat on Friday. Davis and Hernandez, both speedy slap hitters, combined for 13 RBIs a year ago. Friday each had a two-run single in a five-run fourth inning that blew open a 2-2 tie.
And then there was Belsterling, UCCS' prized freshman, who scattered nine hits and struck out seven. She also hut a long, two-run homer with two outs in the top of the seventh inning put hopes of a Mavericks comeback into fairy tale status.
"Jess did a great job," said Peterson. "She was hitting her spots. When you're playing defense you can see that something special is going on. When they see the effort she's putting in, everybody else elevates their game to match her."
Lara Mathewson also went deep for UCCS, which improved to 1-4 on the season.
It was Mathewson's drive to center field with two outs in the first inning that started the scoring. In the unnatural light of the RCTC Dome's while fabric sides and roof, Mathewson couldn't tell at first that the ball had cleared the fence and stopped at second. The field umpire had to tell her to continue to home.
UCCS added a run in the second when Christina Blanton singled, stole second and scored on an error by first baseman Natalie Spicer.
The Mavericks tied it in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Melanie Upchurch and a sacrifice fly by Julie O'Neal.
After Belsterling and Blanton walked, Melissa DeWitt brought home the first UCCS run of the fourth inning with a one-out single to center field. With two outs, Hernandez drilled a sharp line drive to right that brought home DeWitt and Blanton. Melissa Wallace singles, her second hit of the game, and stole second before Davis followed with a two-run hit to center.
Minnesota State, meanwhile, couldn't take advantage of their opportunities. The Mavericks left two runners stranded in the fourth and had the bases loaded in the seventh but did not score.
The Mountain Lions will play three games on Saturday (St. Cloud State at 7 a.m., Winona State at 11 a.m. and Concordia St. Paul at 1 p.m. UCCS is without top pitcher Becca Smith, who did not make the trip as she recovers from an illness.
NOTE: For video of today's game, click here.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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