Mountain Lions Sweep First-Place Metro State
DENVER - Entering this weekend's series against the powerful Metro State Roadrunners, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball team was hoping to break even in order to stay in the race for a playoff spot.
The Mountain Lions accomplished that goal on the first day, sweeping Metro State 2-0, 5-2 Saturday at Auraria Field, becoming the first team to beat Metro State in consecutive games since 2009.
UCCS (12-19, 9-13 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) looked to be walking into a meat grinder this weekend. Metro State had won six straight and 11 of its past 13 while the Mountain Lions had won just three of their past 10. The Roadrunners were averaging 7.25 runs scored per game.
But for one day, at least, Wile E. Coyote got the best of the Roadrunners. Or maybe it was Scrap E. Mountain Lion. Whoever it was came disguised as Becca Smith and Jessica Belsterling.
Smith (5-7) threw a shutout in the opener despite allowing seven hits and five walks. She stranded 12 Metro State baserunners and struck out a career-high 11. Ten of those strikeouts came in the first five innings.
Belsterling (7-7) allowed four hits and two walks in the second game, none of which came after the third inning. The freshman from Glendale, Ariz., faced the minimum number of batters over the final four frames to make a UCCS lead gained in the third inning last for the duration.
Metro State (20-10, 15-7 RMAC) hadn't lost two straight games since the end of the 2009 season and hadn't lost two straight to the same opponent since Fort Hays State did it on Feb. 8, 2009.
UCCS will be trying to break new ground in Sunday's doubleheader. Metro State hasn't lost three straight to the same opponent since the reinstatement of the program prior to the 2008 season. The Roadrunners last lost three straight games overall since dropping one to Regis on March 27, 2008 and two to Colorado School of Mines two days later.
Game 1 starter Smith saw more traffic that the Woodmen / Academy intersection in earning her second shutout of the season. Nine Roadrunners reached second, four of which advanced to third, but Smith found her way out of the mess each time.
Caitlin Connelly and Amanda Hathaway led off the UCCS half of the fifth inning with Connelly getting hit by a pitch and Hathaway singling to center field. After Marissa Wallace sacrificed both up a base, Landry Davis drove in pinch runner Sara Palizzi with a single. Belsterling scored Hathaway with a two-out single to make it 2-0.
Smith made the lead stand, leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth before holding the Roadrunners hitless in the final two innings.
Christina Blanton got the Mountain Lions the early lead in the nightcap with a solo home run in the second game. Metro State answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning beginning with an Aubree Maul RBI single with the bases loaded. The second run crossed when Kasey Nichols scored while Maul was caught in a rundown.
Blanton returned the lead to the care of the Mountain Lions in the third when her one-out double scored Davis and Lara Mathewson. Connelly made it 4-2 with a two-out double that scored Blanton.
Belsterling made it 5-2 with an RBI groundout in the fourth.
Hathaway went 3-for-6 for the Mountain Lions while Mathewson and Blanton were each 3-for-7.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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