Neely's walk-off blast earns softball series win at Idaho State
POCATELLO, Idaho -- Northern Colorado sophomore Alex Neely hit a three-run walk-off homer Sunday afternoon at Idaho State, and Erin Wilkinson and Kelli Henderson also contributed two RBIs apiece as the Bears earned an 8-6 victory and a doubleheader split at Rainey Park.
Northern Colorado (11-28, 3-5 Pacific Coast Softball Conference) lost its first game Sunday 6-2, but Neely's smash over the left-field wall in game two (her second of the day) gave the Bears their first PCSC series win and kept them in a tie for fourth with Idaho State (9-28, 3-5) in the PCSC Coastal Division standings.
Northern Colorado, the designated home team for today's pair of games, per PCSC rules, will next play at Colorado State at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Fort Collins before returning home Saturday afternoon to open up a four-game conference series with Weber State.
Idaho State 6, Northern Colorado 2
The Bears struck early in the first game Sunday when Wilkinson stroked a single through the right side to plate Henderson, who earlier reached with a single.
The game remained 1-0 until the fourth, but Idaho State took the lead for good with two in that frame and one more in the fifth.
Neely's blast to left pulled the Bears to within 3-2, but they would get no closer, and the Bengals padded their lead with three more in the seventh to win going away.
Sophomore Melisa Ryba (4-5) started in the circle for Northern Colorado in the loss, and she allowed three runs on five hits, while striking out three and walking four, in her four innings of work.
Neely and Henderson provided some relief through the game's final three innings, but the damage proved too much to overcome.
Northern Colorado 8, Idaho State 6
The Bears sent Jamie Juelfs to the circle in game two Sunday, after she shut out the Bengals in a 1-0 victory yesterday in the first game of the series, and she pitched near flawlessly for four innings and took a 3-0 lead into the fifth.
Wilkinson's RBI single to left in the first inning started the Bears' scoring, and Henderson's RBI double and Wilkinson's sacrifice fly to left in the third spotted Juelfs her early cushion.
The Bengals, however, tied it with three in the fifth, ending Juelfs' day. Henderson (3-10) relieved her and got out of the inning without further damage, but she surrendered three more in the sixth, and Idaho State entered the bottom of the sixth with a 6-3 advantage.
From there it was all Northern Colorado, which scored two in the bottom of the sixth and then three more in the seventh on Neely's blast to take the game and the series.
Sophomore Erin Geddis reached on a bunt to third to start the seventh, and Jessie Schoepflin then reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild throw by Idaho State's center fielder.
Henderson followed with a deep sacrifice RBI fly to right that allowed Geddis to score and tie the game at 6-6, and Neely cranked the first pitch she saw to win it for the Bears.