Another pair of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference softball games fell evenly on Sunday between the Chadron State College Eagles and the New Mexico Highlands University Cowgirls. Just as was the case on Saturday, NMHU took the early game and CSC took the latter to close out the series in Chadron.
Both games on Sunday were decided by the closest of margins. Highlands won 9-8 in the noon game, pulling ahead with a seventh-inning run, while CSC scored its game winner in the bottom of the sixth in the afternoon contest.
“Again I was disappointed in that first game,” said CSC Head Softball Coach Kaley Ness, “especially considering how well Gabby [Russell] pitched. We just need to clean up some things defensively. The team fought hard, though. It’s really nice to see them fight hard and win the next one.”
Chadron State is now 6-26 on the season, with a 5-15 RMAC mark, while New Mexico Highlands is 7-23 (5-15 RMAC).
Each team was credited with six fielding errors in the Highlands win, leading to a total of 15 unearned runs and only two earned.
CSC jumped out to a 4-0 lead, scoring two runs apiece in the first and second innings. Three Highlands errors were primarily responsible for the first two. The second pair were the product of a sac fly by freshman Lauren Zimmerman and an RBI single by sophomore Mackenzi Kroll, after junior Chloe Brown’s leadoff single and a walk by sophomore Jessie Henchenski put both players on base.
In the third, Highlands senior Gloria Dilauro led off with a single, but advanced three more times on a pair of CSC errors, putting the Cowgirls on the board. With two outs, sophomore Samantha Gamboa played senior Camrynn Ziegler, who reached base safely thanks to the second error.
Highlands took its first lead in the top of the fourth, when a single and another CSC error put two in scoring position with two outs. The Cowgirls then got three RBI singles to go on top 5-4.
CSC tied the game at five apiece with another two-out unearned run in the bottom of the inning.
Each team scored three in the fifth in much the same manner, and they went into the seventh knotted 8-8 after a scoreless sixth frame.
The same pattern played out in the Cowgirls’ seventh inning. NMHU junior Alice Midiri led off with a walk, advanced to third on a pair of groundouts, then scored on a CSC fielding error which would have represented the third out. Highlands retired the side in the Eagles’ final at-bat, and the game ended 9-8 in NMHU’s favor.
Russell was 1-3 following the loss, but none of the nine runs charged against her, in her complete game, were earned. Ramirez claimed the victory for her first of the season, improving to 1-9.
The closing game in the series was played much more cleanly and quickly.
CSC was up 2-0 after three, when junior Addison Spears led off with a double down the right field stripe, and freshman Amaya Ruiz followed up with her second homer in as many days.
Eagles’ senior starting pitcher Tia Kohl went four and two-thirds innings without allowing a hit, but the Cowgirls evened the score at 2-2 with a trio of singles and a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
Fortunately for CSC, there was one Highlands error remaining for the day, and it came in the bottom of the sixth, putting both Brown and sophomore Sloane Quijas aboard. They both advanced on sac bunt by Henchenski, and Brown cleared home plate thanks to a sac fly by Zimmerman for the second out, putting CSC up 3-2.
The Cowgirls batted 1-for-4 in their final opportunity.
Kohl improved to 2-12 in the circle, while NMHU junior starter Nathalie Blattman fell to 5-9.
CSC remains tied for 10th, along with NMHU, but both teams moved past Adams State University, which lost all four RMAC contests over the weekend.
The Eagles are slated for a series at MSU Denver next weekend on April 2-3.