February 13, 2011

Softball ends Hotel Encanto Invitational with Big 10 win

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LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Northern Colorado softball ended its season-opening southwest road trip on a high note Sunday with a 12-4 victory against Minnesota on the final day of the Hotel Encanto Invitational at New Mexico State.

The Bears (1-5) were tied were at four with the Gophers heading into the fifth inning when they finally flexed their offensive muscle with an eight-run outburst that ended the game on mercy rule.

Erin Geddis led the way at the plate for the Bears, who improved to 2-0 all-time against Minnesota (0-3). She finished 3-for-4 at the plate in the victory and accounted for her three RBIs in the bottom of the fifth with a bases-clearing game-winning triple.

Erin Wilkinson finished 2-for-3, and Melanie Buol, Alex Neely, Megan Hamilton, Kelli Henderson and Megan Wilkinson each put together one hit apiece.

The victory kept Northern Colorado from coming home from its first trip of the season without a win and gave it some momentum heading into a three-game series at New Mexico on Friday and Saturday Feb. 25 and 26.

"The kids played loose and confident against Minnesota and finally played closer to our true ability level," Northern Colorado coach Mark Montgomery said. "We now have a week-and-a-half off to regroup and correct some mistakes that hounded us this weekend. We are excited to rebound against New Mexico."

Senior Kelli Henderson (1-3) started in the circle for the Bears against the Gophers and allowed just one earned run on four in her five innings of work. She also struck out three and walked two.

Geddis late-inning heroics could have been even more dramatic had the situation prompted Montgomery. Geddis, who had two hits in the fifth, came to bat with the bases loaded on her second turn to the plate after Buol drew an RBI walk, pushing Hamilton to second and Henderson to third.

She followed with a shot over the outfielder's head and had a chance to get an inside-the-park home run. Montgomery held her, though, when Buol crossed the plate, giving his the eight-run advantage after five.

"When it was over, I ran it over in my head if I should have sent her or not," Montgomery said. "We had already won the game, but that would have made for a nice headline had she scored. It would have taken a perfect throw to get her, and I wanted to avoid an unnecessary play at the plate."