Freshman outfielder Mackenzi Kroll’s late-game heroics on Saturday salvaged the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference series against visiting Regis University, and resulted in a split doubleheader, sending the Eagles into the offseason on a high note.
The second-year player from Brighton, Colorado, hit what was probably the longest home run of the season for the Eagles, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, to break open a tie game in the final contest of the four-game series.
It put a silver lining on a trying season for the Eagles, who lost their top two pitchers and a veteran first baseman to finish 13-27 (13-23 RMAC) and ranked 9th of 12 in the league.
“There wasn’t a question in my mind,” said CSC Head Softball Coach Kaley Ness, “as soon as she made contact with the ball, that it was going way over fence. It was really exciting to see. Mackenzi is capable of so much power, so it was really nice to see her end the season that way.”
Both teams hit safely in game three of the series, in the morning, and no player on either team had more than one base hit in the game. Pitchers Taylor Armitage (13-3) of Regis and Gabby Russell (4-8) of CSC were the pitchers of record for the third consecutive game in the series, and dueled to a low-scoring 4-3 Rangers victory.
Regis jumped on top first in its first at-bat, however CSC evened things up 2-2 by the bottom of the third.
Junior second baseman Madison Flores gave the Rangers a go-ahead run in the fourth with an RBI single in the fourth, prompting Coach Ness to relieve Russell, who ended the series later with 19.0 innings of work.
Sophomore Peyton Propp entered and allowed only one base hit the rest of the way, striking out five batters, however three defensive errors by CSC in the fifth gave Regis the winning score.
True Freshman Paige Propp, sister of Peyton, provided an additional run on an RBI single in the sixth, but the Rangers (19-5, 16-14 RMAC) escaped with the 4-3 win, clinching an RMAC Tournament berth, after retiring four of the final five Eagles batters.
Game four, in the afternoon, went much like the previous affair, with the Rangers leading 4-3 through five innings.
The two teams combined for eight defensive errors. Regis’ pitchers were charged only three of CSC’s seven runs, and Russell, who started for CSC and endured 6 2/3 innings, was charged with only two of the Rangers’ five.
Once again, Regis went up 2-0 to start the game, but CSC freshman designated player Micah Stouffer countered with a two-RBI single in the third.
The Rangers’ fourth inning mirrored the earlier game as Flores provided an RBI single for her team following an unearned run, making it a 4-2 game.
An RBI double by CSC freshman utility player Jessie Henchenski was the highlight of the team’s fourth inning at bat, which included two other hits and a sac bunt, drawing the Eagles back to within a single run at 4-3.
Facing another close loss at 5-3 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Eagles were aided by a pair of Regis errors, but they got another double from Henchenski and an RBI single from senior catcher Bailey Rominger to tie the game with noone out.
Two infield pop flies preceded Kroll’s homer, which went at least 10 feet past the bleachers along the left field fence to seal the deal for the Eagles.
Though Russell carried the load in the pitching circle for the Eagles, Propp (6-9) was the pitcher of record by entering in the top of the seventh, down 5-3, and finishing the game with the lead. Kara Rodeheaver of Regis entered the game up 5-4 and was charged the game-winning home run to receive the loss and fall to 1-4 on the season.
CSC is expected to return most of its top players, including top hitter Bailey Marvel, a sophomore, and ace pitcher Tia Kohl, a junior, in addition to bringing in several quality high school prospects.