Leeling's Painful Record Helps UCCS Split Doubleheader at Mesa State

By Doug Fitzgerald published March 5, 2011

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Tahnea Leeling tied a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs record twice Saturday and the ice machine at the team's Grand Junction hotel will be busy because of it.

Leeling was hit by a pitch twice in each of the Mountain Lions games against the Mesa State Mavericks and also hit a home run as UCCS split the doubleheader, dropping the first game 6-2 and winning the second 8-5.

Lara Mathewson went a combined 5-for-6 with a home run and two RBIs for UCCS (5-10, 2-4 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). Landry Davis went 4-for-7, while Christina Blanton was 3-for-7 and Erin Milburn was 2-for-5 with a home run.

Leeling was 1-for-3 with three RBIs when not targeted by an optic yellow, 12-inch-circumference missile. She matched the pain record held jointly by Crystal Krebs on May 1 2004 and Rachel Hancock on May 17, 2007.

"Tahnea did her job, got on base any way possible and hit a big home run," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "We see that (Leeling) has the power every day (in practice). She played with confidence today."

It was the third of Leeling's plunkings that got the Mountain Lions on the board in the nightcap when she got drilled with the bases loaded. Two batters later, Davis singled up the middle to score a second run. Mathewson followed with another single to complete the three-run inning.

Leeling's two-run shot in the fourth started another UCCS rally. Jessica Belsterling hit an RBI double later in the inning as UCCS went up 6-0. The lead grew to seven when Erin Milburn led the inning off with a solo homer that snuck inside the left field foul pole.

The Mountain Lions needed every one of those runs. Mesa State, behind a three-run homer by Sara Jordan, rallied for five runs in the sixth to cut the deficit to two. A Jessica Belsterling sacrifice fly made it 8-5 in the bottom of the inning.

Mesa State had its Nos. 8 and 9 hitters leading off the seventh and, with the top of the Mavericks order all having two or more hits on the day, getting those first two outs was paramount. UCCS shortstop Marissa Wallace got the first with a diving catch of a Shannon McClenahan line drive up the middle. UCCS starting pitcher Becca Smith got the second, inducing a ground out to second baseman Mathewson. Two batters later, Smith's seventh strikeout of the game ended it.

"The play by Marrissa in the bottom of the seventh was huge," said Peterson.

Smith (1-2) was getting her first start since undergoing surgery two weeks ago. Four of the five runs scored against her were earned as she allowed seven hits and a walk. Aside from the sixth inning, the junior from Solon, Iowa, threw six scoreless innings of three-hit ball.

"Becca is coming off major surgery," said Peterson. "it was great to see her throw today after a layoff."

Sam Farris (2-3) took the loss for the Mavericks (6-5, 4-2 RMAC).

Solo home runs by Mathewson and Blanton, both in the fourth inning, accounted for the Mountain Lions' offense in the opener.  Those two runs erased a lead built by the Mavericks in the first inning on RBI singles by Sara Jordan and Megan Smith.

A Taylor Gross RBI double in the bottom half of the fourth gave Mesa State the lead again. An inning later, the Mavericks put up three more on a Lauren Cross single and a two run homer by Lisa Pile. The Mountain Lions put a runner on in the sixth and two in the seventh but left them stranded.

Jordan (3-1) pitched a five-hitter to get the win. Belsterling (4-5) took the loss.
 

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