April 5, 2014

Softball turns tide on Sacramento State in series finale

Collin Boyles

GREELEY -- A productive sixth inning for the Northern Colorado softball team closed out an 8-1 win against the top team in the Big Sky, Sacramento State, in the finale of a three-game series. Senior Megan Wilkinson threw her third complete game of the season while allowing just five hits.

The Bears (13-27, 4-2 Big Sky) jumped ahead early and never looked back at the Butler-Hancock Softball Field in front of 189 fans. Sacrifice hits led to the early-inning scores and two-out hits sealed the deal with a four-run sixth inning. Wilkinson (Windsor, Colo.) allowed one or fewer earned runs for the fifth time in her seventh win of the season.

"We did a much better job throwing to hitters' weaknesses," Head Coach Shana Easley said. "Our whole coaching staff put in a lot of time in the past 12 hours really going over tape, going over hitters [and] figuring out how we can throw to their weaknesses and going off Megan's strengths. I think the combination of that and (Wilkinson) coming out and battling gave her her success today."

Wilkinson finished with one strikeout and allowed just five hits on the day. In her seven innings pitched, Wilkinson denied a hit in three and allowed just one in three. She allowed two hits in the third inning that provided Sacramento State's only run.

Nicole Hudson led the way for the Bears at the plate, going 3-of-4 with two RBI's and one run scored. She was the first to cross the plate to put UNC ahead in the second inning, being brought home by a single to right center field from junior Kaitlin Flynn (Johnstown, Colo.). The Hornets answered with one run in the top of the third, but a sac fly and an RBI double in the bottom half gave the Bears a 3-1 lead early.

Sacramento State recorded just two hits the rest of the way, coming in the sixth and seventh innings. Freshman Erica Dick (Boise, Idaho) scored one run in the fifth before the Bears' added their insurance runs in the sixth. Junior Morgan Yuhas (Henderson, Nev.) hit a two-RBI single to right center field before a single and a double brought in the final two runs of the day in the 8-1 win for UNC.

"It's a huge win for us. Every win in the conference is huge," Easley said. "We've talked about, since we've started conference play, that every game is the most important game and (the players) did a good job coming back from yesterday clear-minded and ready to attack this game."

The Bears continue home Big Sky action next weekend as the Vikings of Portland State come to Greeley. UNC and PSU will play a three-game series with a doubleheader at 1 and 3 p.m. on Friday, April 11. The two teams will finish up the series at 1 p.m. on Saturday.