Bears lose pair of heartbreakers in Orem
By ZACH BOND
OREM, Utah -- The Northern Colorado softball program dropped a pair of close games on Friday in the first of two double-headers on the road against Utah Valley.
In what turned out to be a pitchers' duel in the first game, the Bears (17-20, 2-4 PCSC) fell 2-1 to the Wolverines (22-12, 3-3 PCSC) -- their seventh inning rally falling just short.
Down 2-0 going into their final at-bats, Northern Colorado tried to muster a furious comeback keyed by a Mikayla Duffy leadoff homerun to cut the deficit in half. The homerun was the freshman's first of her Northern Colorado career.
Unfortunately, the Bears couldn't continue the offense, as Nicole Hudson followed the homerun up with a lineout back to the pitcher and Erin Wilkinson struck out. After a Kaitlin Flynn walk to extend the inning, Jamie Pollak ended the game with a ground out to the pitcher.
Freshman Kelci Cheney was saddled with the tough-luck loss even after throwing all six innings. She finished her day giving up just one earned run on seven hits and two walks. She also struck out two batters.
The game's first run came in the second inning when Stephanie Likos singled up the middle with runners on first and second. Amanda Perez was able to score from second after Bears' center fielder Erin Geddis had trouble fielding the single.
Cheney was strong after the second inning -- getting through the next two innings with the Wolverines mustering just one hit against her.
In the fifth though, she ran into trouble again. After allowing a single and a walk with one out, Cheney gave up an RBI single up the middle to Amanda Robinson to put the Wolverines up 2-0.
The freshman quickly shut the door on the potential big inning, but the two runs were proved to be enough for Wolverine pitcher Tiffany Mills -- who threw a complete-game two-hitter against the Bears.
In the second game, once again the Bears found themselves on the wrong end of a close game after a 7-5 loss.
This time, it was the Wolverines who had to come-from-behind after the Bears got out to a 5-3 lead in the fifth inning.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Robinson continued to hit well for Utah Valley -- mashing two homeruns and raking in all seven of the Wolverines' runs in the game.
The biggest damage came in the fifth when Robinson launched a grandslam, her second homerun of the game, to put Utah Valley up 7-5 -- a lead it would never relinquish.
Robinson's homer was especially crushing for the Bears considering they had mounted a fifth-inning rally of their own to take a 5-3 lead.
The inning started with a Melissa Marcovecchio leadoff double and ended with a Lindsey Smith RBI single. In between, Alex Neely also had an RBI after her suicide-squeeze bunt caught the Wolverines off-guard.
After a Robinson three-run homer in the first inning put Utah Valley up early, the Bears battled back in the second. Nicole Hudson ripped an RBI double to right field and Jamie Pollak smashed a single through the right side that plated two more to even the score.
In the circle, Megan Wilkinson took the loss. Even though she threw just one inning, she allowed the grandslam in the fifth that gave the Wolverines the winning runs.
After Cheney started and threw the first inning of shutout softball, Duffy came in for relief and threw four innings while allowing three earned runs on three hits.
Northern Colorado will look to bounce back in its final two games of the series on Saturday as it tries to get back into the thick of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference race. The first pitch of the double-header is set for noon.