Softball provides glimpse of future in tripleheader victory against Idaho State
GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado's softball team, set to join the Pacific Coast Softball Conference in 2010, made a statement Friday afternoon at the Butler-Hancock Softball Field.
The Bears, playing against future PCSC Mountain Division foe Idaho State, won two of three games in a rare weather-forced tripleheader and moved their season record to 13-21.
The statement was two-fold.
Northern Colorado showed it could be a force in PCSC play once league action begins next season, and it also moved closer to improving on its overall season record for a third straight season.
The Bears won 11 games in head coach Jen Schunke's first season in Greeley and then set an NCAA Division I record with 16 victories last season. Now -- following a 9-1 win in game one Friday and an 8-6 victory in game two before coming up short 7-3 in the third contest -- and with 14 games remaining, Northern Colorado is in prime position to improve on that record once again.
"We're proud of what we did today," Bears coach Jen Schunke said. "But, still, I was a little disappointed that we weren't able to finish them off. We haven't swept anyone this year (in a three-game series) and we are still learning to finish teams off. We didn't do that today, which is my only gripe."
The two teams took a while to warm up Friday morning and were both scoreless through three innings of game one. The Bears woke from their slumber in the fourth, though, and scored all nine of its runs in three innings to come out on top of the run-differential decision.
Sophomore Kelli Henderson (4-6) went the distance in the circle for the complete-game victory, striking out five while allowing just three hits and the single run.
Freshmen Melisa Ryba and Erin Geddis provided most of the punch at the plate, combining to go 5-7 with five RBIs and four runs scored.
Game two was a bit more of a nip-and-tuck affair, with Northern Colorado striking for their first run in the first inning and never relinquishing the lead. The Bears put four on the board in the fourth, aided by two Bengals errors, and were able to hold the advantage after allowing Idaho State to plate two in the fifth and four in the sixth.
Hillarie Van Otterloo (4-6) started in the circle in the victory and was cruising until the Bengals' half of the fifth. The senior hadn't surrendered even a hit until that fifth frame, but when the dust cleared at the end of the sixth, she had given up four earned runs on six hits with three punchouts.
Sophomore Jamie Juelfs came on in relief and slammed the door, pitching 1.2 innings and allowing just one hit and striking out one.
Idaho State (12-18) took control of the third game and never let Northern Colorado be much of a factor. The Bengals sandwiched three-run innings in the third and fifth around a single-run in the fourth and never looked back.
Northern Colorado struck for single runs in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Sophomore Courtney Maihi (3-3) took the loss for the Bears in the circle after falling victim to a lot of seeing-eye hits from Idaho State. Her final line -- five earned runs on six hits in four innings -- wasn't nearly as bad as it seemed.