February 11, 2012

Softball continues its school-record start to 2012

HAMMOND, La. -- The Northern Colorado softball program continued its red-hot start to its 2012 campaign with a 3-1 pitcher's duel victory over Jackson State and a 6-5 victory over Southeastern Louisiana Saturday at the Lion Classic.

The Bears' (5-0) five-game winning streak is the school's longest ever to open up a season. It was also the team's fourth-straight to start the tournament -- one win away from a perfect 5-0 at the Lion Classic.

Although the result in the win column looks the same after its Saturday afternoon battle with Jackson State, how the Bears got there looked a little different. In the team's first three games, the offense pounded out a total of 32 runs, but was held to just three runs on four hits.

Fortunately for the Bears' offense, the pitching, led by Mikayla Duffy, was outstanding and held Jackson State to just one run on five hits.

"I'm really proud of the way we've started," Northern Colorado coach Mark Montgomery said. "We're really excited but we want to finish the tournament strong so we're going to continue to work hard.

"Today, our bats weren't quite as lively so it was nice to see our pitching step up and really fill that void. What's most exciting though, is that there have been three different games where we've found three different ways to win -- including coming back to win, holding onto a lead and now winning a pitcher's duel."

Duffy, a freshman, got the start and threw 5.2 shutout innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. The Grand Junction, Colo. native also struck out three batters on the day.

Sophomore Megan Wilkinson wrapped up the game with 1.1 innings of work. She gave up one run on off a solo homerun by Sabeana Romero.

Offensively, Northern Colorado was helped by four errors made by the Jaguars. With the game scoreless through three innings, the Bears' bats finally came alive -- scoring two runs to take the lead.

Tianalia Fa'asua opened up the game's scoring with an RBI single, while the Bears scored the second run of the inning off a Tiger error. Fa'asua, another freshman, was the only Bear to notch two hits in the game.

In the night-cap, Northern Colorado defeated tournament host Southeastern Louisiana. Although the squad dug itself into a 3-0 hole in the first inning, the team rallied back with four runs in the second to take a lead it would never relinquish.

On Sunday, the Bears will look for a perfect ending to a perfect tournament with a get-away game against Kansas at 8:00 a.m.