Softball splits Saturday double-header with Portland State
Mark Montgomery audio
By ZACH BOND
GREELEY -- The Northern Colorado softball squad snapped a seven-game losing streak in its 4-2 home win over PCSC Mountain Division leader Portland State on Saturday afternoon.
The Bears (18-24, 3-7 PCSC) took the first game before their comeback in the second game -- a 10-8 loss -- fell just short.
"There were a lot of good things that happened today," Northern Colorado coach Mark Montgomery said. "It doesn't outweigh the frustrating moments of how we ended losing that second game, but we did some very good things too. I felt where we positioned our team, the execution of our defensive sets and our game-plan were, for the most part, spot on."
In the first game, the Bears went up against one of the best pitchers in the PCSC in Vikings (17-16, 7-3 PCSC) junior Anna Bertrand, but were not intimated -- running her in just the fourth inning after touching her up for four runs on six hits.
"I really thought our kids executed our game plan really well," Montgomery said. "[Bertrand] is probably going to be the PCSC Pitcher of the Year and I thought we did a great job of having a game plan, attacking her and being successful."
Northern Colorado got an unexpected contribution from freshman Morgan Yuhas -- as she went 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored.
With just 17 hits in 76 at-bats this season, Yuhas is not normally counted on to provide large portions of the Bears' offense, but her two-run single in the bottom of the fourth gave the Bears the lead for good. The two RBI were Yuhas's fourth and fifth of her career.
Another freshman, Melissa Marcovecchio, provided the rest of the Northern Colorado offense -- going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
In the third inning, Marcovecchio ripped a triple to right field that scored Yuhas. Marcovecchio was able to score on the play too, after the throw got away from the Portland State catcher.
In keeping with the theme for the day, another freshman gave the Bears the necessary pitching performance to take home the win.
Kelci Cheney was outstanding in the circle -- going the distance for the Bears while allowing just two runs on seven hits. She also struck out two Vikings on the day.
Cheney's biggest moment came in the third inning after Portland State had already scored a couple runs in the frame. With the bases loaded and the Vikings on the verge on breaking open a huge inning, Cheney was able to get Brittany Hendrickson to ground out to second base to get out of the inning with minimal damage.
In the second game, the Bears got out to a quick start, but couldn't hold on in the end -- losing 10-8.
In the first inning, after a one-two-three inning by the Vikings, Northern Colorado exploded for five runs.
The final two runs of the inning were scored after Nicole Hudson, another freshman, blasted a homerun off the scoreboard in right field. It was Hudson's fourth homer of the year.
Portland State immediately answered the Bears' big first inning by scoring four in the second to cut Northern Colorado's lead to just one.
The real blows to the Bears though came in the sixth and seventh innings -- where the Viks scored five runs to take the lead.
Even though they were down 10-6 heading into the seventh inning, the Bears refused to give up -- battling back with a Lindsey Smith two-run homerun with no outs to cut the deficit in half. It was Smith's team-leading ninth of the year.
Unfortunately, the Bears couldn't continue to build on the Smith homerun -- after a walk, the next three batters couldn't get on base as the game ended.
Northern Colorado will have a chance to win the series on Sunday with the final two games against the Vikings set to start at noon.