Softball tumbles in Independent tourney third-place game
BOX SCORE: vs. Houston Baptist
GREELEY, Colo. -- When Northern Colorado's softball schedule was released prior to this season, Tuesday's season-ending doubleheader against Colorado State seemed like an odd quirk.
It seemed, well, weird that the Bears would play two games against their instate rival after playing in what amounts to their postseason -- the NCAA Division I Independent Tournament.
But after Northern Colorado's sluggish performance Sunday against Houston Baptist in the third-place game of that tournament, Tuesday's date with the Rams seems like a gift. Like a second chance to end this historic 2009 season on a good note, instead of ending it with the 9-3 loss Northern Colorado suffered Sunday on its home home field.
Houston Baptist (18-23) scored four runs in the first inning against Bears starter Jamie Juelfs and never looked back. Northern Colorado scraped together a single run in the fifth and two more in the sixth, but it wasn't enough on this day.
"We were just flat from the very beginning," Northern Colorado coach Jen Schunke said. "We didn't really press or anything like that, we just really struggled from the first inning on today, and it really cost us."
Juelfs, who was so dominant against these same Huskies on Friday night in pool play, allowed a triple to HBU's leadoff hitter Sunday and then allowed four more hits before Schunke made the walk to the circle and handed the ball to senior Hillarie Van Otterloo.
Van Otterloo stemmed the tide for a bit, but she, too, was eventually chased from the game in favor of sophomore Kelli Henderson, who ended the game with a scoreless two-thirds of an inning.
Offensively, Northern Colorado (18-30) was led in the loss by senior Katelyn Landorf (two for three), who continued her late-season and late-career surge, and freshman Erin Wilkinson (two for three), who hit her fifth-home run of the season in the Bears' sixth inning.
"I think, as a team, we kind of came into this game today," Van Otterloo said, "with the mind-set that we'd be able to beat these guys (Houston Baptist) because we beat them a couple days ago. But they jumped on us early, just like they did on Friday, and we didn't answer the call."
Luckily, for Schunke and her players, another chance to answer the call awaits right around the corner. And, getting a chance to do it against the rival Rams could serve as the perfect cherry on the sundae that is this 2009 Northern Colorado softball season.
"I think Colorado State speaks for itself," Schunke said. "It's always big when we play them -- many of our players know their players very well, and we are the only Division I teams in the state. If these girls can't get up for Tuesday, then I don't know what to say. We'll be ready. It should be fun."
2009 NCAA DIVISION I INDEPENDENT ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Jessica Amador, Seattle
Jamie Foote, Seattle
Alaina Novotny, South Dakota
Jessica McNabb, Northern Colorado
Melissa Wright, Houston Baptist
Jessie Schoepflin, Northern Colorado
Casie Campanello, Houston Baptist
Jill McClelland, Cal State Bakersfield
Tagney Jones, South Dakota
Danielle Lyman, Cal State Bakersfield
Lexie Eversley, South Dakota
Melisa Ryba, Northern Colorado
Hannah Klein, Seattle
Jammie Weidert, Houston Baptist
Brittany Johnson, Cal State Bakersfield
Hannah Klein, Seattle