Softball can't overcome big innings on first day of Mizuno Classic
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Big innings doomed Northern Colorado's softball team in its first two games at this year's Mizuno Classic at Oklahoma State.
The Bears lost 9-5 to Drake University and 15-13 to Cleveland State.
A six-run second inning was the difference against the Bulldogs, and the Vikings used four-, five- and six-run outbursts in their slugfest win in Northern Colorado's second game of the day.
Pitching has been somewhat of a sore spot this year for the Bears, and that storyline -- especially relief pitching struggles -- continued Friday in Stillwater.
Kelli Henderson started against Drake and was solid, surrendering just three earned runs in her four innings of work. Courtney Maihi then started against Cleveland State, turning in an effort similar to Henderson. Maihi allowed three earned runs on nine hits in her four innings in the circle.
The wheels came off, though, when head coach Jen Schunke went to her bullpen.
Jamie Juelfs relieved Henderson in the first game but allowed six earned runs in two-thirds of an inningto put the game out of reach.
Melisa Ryba then walked three and allowed a hit and five earned runs in her third of an inning in relief of Maihi.
The Bears went into the seventh inning against Cleveland State down 15-8, but a five-run explosion of their own -- highlighted by a four-run home run to left from Erin Wilkinson -- got the game close.
Northern Colorado will be back on the field tomorrow to face Arkansas and the host Cowgirls. The game against the Razorbacks will be a reunion of sorts for Schunke, who starred at Arkansas during her collegiate playing career.