Softball uses huge comeback to take down the Bengals
By ZACH BOND
GREELEY -- The Northern Colorado softball team certainly knows how to make things interesting, as it split the first two games of a four-game series against Idaho State on Saturday afternoon.
The Bears (20-26, 5-9) gave a heroic effort in their 11-10 come-from-behind walk-off victory in the first game.
Down by eight runs after three innings and seven with just two innings left, the Bears battled all the way back -- scoring five runs in the seventh inning capped by an Alex Neely walk-off single to steal victory away from the Bengals.
"It's all about confidence," Northern Colorado coach Mark Montgomery said. "Once we realized we could make some plays and score some runs, we started playing with a lot more confidence and things quickly turned around and we were right back in the game."
Northern Colorado was buoyed on offense by freshman speedster Melissa Marcovecchio, who finished the game with three triples and five RBI. With her trio of three-baggers, Marcovecchio has now smashed 11 on the season -- the most in the nation. Her final triple of the day was the biggest, as she smashed a bases-clearing three-bagger with the bases loaded to tie the game up in the seventh inning.
Before the Bears could begin their comeback, Idaho State jumped out to a big lead within the first three innings.
Freshman Kelci Cheney got the start but gave up five runs in her one inning of work. After getting out of the first inning giving up three, the first three batters in the second inning reached before Cheney was relieved by Megan Wilkinson.
Unfortunately, the first four batters Wilkinson faced also all reached as the Bengals increased their lead to six. In the next inning, Wilkinson's last, Idaho State scored two more to stretch their lead to eight.
From there, the Bears began to chip away -- scoring three in the fourth, three in the sixth, and five in the final frame.
As critical as players like Neely and Marcovecchio were to Northern Colorado's success, junior Jamie Pollak played as important a role. She entered the game for Wilkinson in the fourth and threw the final four innings of the game. She gave up just two runs on four hits and one walk -- keeping the Bears within striking distance.
"Jamie (Pollack) has pitched like that a lot during practice for us," Montgomery said. "We haven't necessarily seen it during games, but today she was great in helping stop the bleeding. I'm hopeful she can carry this over to tomorrow and the rest of the season."
In the second game, the Bears dropped a heartbreaker 4-2 as the Bengals scored two runs in the seventh inning to take a lead that, this time, they would not relinquish.
Freshman Mikayla Duffy got the start in the circle and pitched a very good game -- throwing six innings and giving up just two runs on seven hits. Both of the runs against her came in the first inning, but after that she was lights-out.
Duffy did a great job of pitching around traffic all game too. In the second inning, the Bengals loaded the bases with nobody out, but Duffy induces two force-outs at the plate before getting the third out on a groundball to get out of the inning with no damage.
The Bengals got their two final runs off Wilkinson and Cheney as Montgomery tried to mix-and-match his pitchers to fit different matchups, but unfortunately, Idaho State had other plans.
Sunday, the Bears wrap up their final home PCSC series with a double-header beginning at noon. That day will be "Pink Day", as the Bears will sport their pink uniforms to help raise cancer awareness. Sunday will also be the Bears' chance to acknowledge and support their three seniors before the game.