May 1, 2011

Softball takes step back in PCSC title chase

RELATED CLICKS:
Game one | Game two | NC season stats | Saturday recap

GREELEY -- Northern Colorado softball's chances of a first NCAA Tournament berth took a bit of hit Sunday at Butler-Hancock Softball Field.

The Bears lost 4-0 and 10-2 in five innings to Portland State and dropped two games behind the Viks in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Mountain Division standings. Both teams, which split a doubleheader Saturday in Greeley, have four games left in their regular seasons.

Portland State (26-16, 12-4) held Northern Colorado (14-34, 10-6) scoreless and nearly hitless in the first game before stringing together 12 hits off four Bears pitchers in a run-differential win in game two.

Melanie Buol and Kelli Henderson each had two hits Sunday, and Alex Neely and Henderson accounted for the Bears' only RBIs. 

After Portland State scored two runs in the second and fourth innings of game one and held Northern Colorado punchless, the Bears struck first in game two and led 1-0 after their first at-bat, thanks to Henderson's RBI double to right-center field.

The Viks answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, but Northern Colorado tied it up in the second when Neely plated Megan Hamilton, who earlier reached on an error by Portland State's second baseman.

The Bears couldn't push any more runs across after that.

Henderson (10-16) started in the circle in game one and surrendered three earned runs on seven hits. She struck out seven and walked and walked three before freshman Kacey Morgan pitched a scoreless sixth with one strikeout and one hit allowed.

Freshman Megan Wilkinson (0-5) got the start in game two but lasted just two innings, getting pulled for Jamie Juelfs in the third inning. She later turned in 2/3 innings of relief and allowed five earned runs on seven hits on the day.

Juelfs, Morgan and Henderson each pitched 2/3 innings of relief, as Northern Colorado coach Mark Montgomery tried his best to extend the game and give his squad a shot at a 2-2 series split.