Softball splits again on Senior Day
By ZACH BOND
GREELEY – The Northern Colorado softball program continued its pattern of splitting double-headers with another wild pair of games on Sunday afternoon.
The Bears (21-27, 6-10 PCSC) celebrated Senior Day by opening up the day with an 8-6 win over Idaho State before falling in a heart-breaking extra-inning affair in the second game of the day.
In game one, Northern Colorado carried an 8-2 lead into the final inning, but had to hang on for the victory after Idaho State (9-33, 5-11 PCSC) scored four to make the game very interesting.
The Bears jumped on top early – scoring three in the first three innings to take a 3-1 lead. And, even though it was Senior Day, it was a pair of freshman that provided the offense for the Bears.
"We're a good hitting team," Northern Colorado coach Mark Montgomery said. "For how young our team is, I think we're doing a great job hitting as well as we're hitting. We've just got to find a way to shut down other teams too and I don't know if we had enough pitching to get that done today."
The early outburst was keyed by a Nicole Hudson two-run homerun in the second inning. The freshman smashed a no-doubt-about-it shot to left field and brought in Mikayla Duffy to put the Bears on the board first.
It was Hudson's sixth homer of the year and second of the series. She finished the weekend going 4-for-12 with those two homeruns, a triple, a double, and four RBI.
The Bears really put the foot on the gas in the fourth though, as they scored five runs to open up an 8-1 lead.
The Bengals certainly didn't help themselves in the inning – making three errors resulting in two unearned runs. The key play came on a Melissa Marcovecchio double that scored both Morgan Yuhas and Ashleigh Waterland.
All weekend Marcovecchio, another freshman, absolutely tore the cover off the ball for the Bears. In the game, she went 3-for-5 with two RBI, a double and a stolen base. For the weekend, she finished going 9-for-16 (.563) with two doubles and seven RBI. Her three triples over the weekend bring her season total to a nation-leading 11. She also worked two walks and got hit by a pitch.
With the lead stretched to seven, it appeared the Bears were ready to run away with the game and prepare for the series finale, but Idaho State had other plans.
After scoring one in the fourth inning, the Bengals went into the seventh down 8-2, but managed to rally for four runs before Megan Wilkinson was able to shut the door on a crazy comeback.
In the inning, the Bears were hurt by an error by Hudson at third base after she dropped a pop fly that would have ended the game. From there, the Bengals scored four unearned runs.
Duffy, a freshman, got the starting nod from Montgomery and threw a good game while getting the win – going four innings and allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks. Just like the day before, she worked out of some sticky situations well – getting out of both a second and fourth inning jam.
Wilkinson entered the game for Duffy in the fifth and ended up working three innings and allowing two runs (none earned) on two hits. She struck out two in her outing.
In the second game, the Bears fell 10-9 in an eight-inning classic that had plenty of drama.
In that one, Northern Colorado's troubles closing out games came back to haunt them as twice, the Bears saw leads disappear in the final frames. Eventually, the Bengals won on a walk-off triple in the eighth inning.
From the beginning, it was clear there was going to be some fireworks as the two teams combined for four seven runs in the first inning.
Idaho State answered back with five runs in the first two innings to take the lead, but the Bears tied things back up in the third with a Kaitlin Flynn two-RBI single.
The next inning, the Bears took the lead again after Lindsey Smith smashed her team-leading 11th homerun of the season. The two-run bomb put the Bears up 7-5.
Down 7-6 heading into the seventh, the Bengals refused to go away though and knotted things up with an RBI single off Wilkinson.
Once in extra innings, the Bears thought they once again had the game in-hand after Duffy jacked a two-run homer off the camera tower in centerfield, but the Bengals came back and took the game after Amanda Fitzsimmons cracked a bases-clearing triple with the bases loaded against Duffy.
Now, the Bears must prepare for their final PCSC series of the season as they hit the road again and travel to Washington to take on Seattle. The pair of doubleheaders begins on Saturday, April 28.
"The focus is just to get better in these last few games," Montgomery said. "We're probably mathematically eliminated at this point, but it's a situation where we're so much better than our record. We're probably one or two bounces away from definitely having a winning record and heading into the last weekend with a chance to win it."