March 25, 2014

Softball's walk-off win ends comeback to take home opener vs Colorado State

Collin Boyles

GREELEY -- Northern Colorado Softball was faced with an early deficit on Tuesday in its home opener against Colorado State but late game heorics by the Bears (9-24) made the best of the day while pulling out a 9-8 win at Butler-Hancock Softball Field infront of 247 fans.

The Bears recorded two singles in the bottom of the seventh but it was an error by the Rams that led to the tying and go-ahead runs. Three runs scored in the bottom of the seventh, all while two of the first batters grounded out. The win was UNC's fifth overall and third in Greeley against CSU.

"It was great to get out first game at home this season," Head Coach Shana Easley said. "The crowd and atmosphere during the game was outstanding.

"We had to fight throughout the game and we had everyone contributing up and down our lineup."

The Rams opened the game with a run in the first and four more in the third, two of which came on a home run. In the bottom half of the third, though, the Bears began its comeback with a two-run home run by junior Morgan Yuhas (Henderson, Nev.), her second home run of the season. The long-ball would be the only score for the Bears until the bottom of the fifth.

The UNC defense allowed just three runners over the fourth and fifth innings, just before it tied the game at five in the bottom half of the latter inning. With two outs the Bears got two runners on base just before junior Melissa Marcovecchio (Broomfield, Colo.) brought them home with a double. Marcovecchio was then rewarded by being brought home for the tying run. Just as fast as the Bears had scored three runs, so did the Rams in the top half of the sixth by way of a two-run home run and an RBI single.

A lead-off single by senior Megan Wilkinson (Windsor, Colo.) allowed junior Molly Ryan (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) to give the Bears another run. Ryan singled up the middle to bring the deficit to two, 8-6. A "1-2-3" top of the seventh inning, pitched by Wilkinson, set the stage for a walk-off win for the Bears.

Marcovecchio reached base on a walk while the batters above and below her in the lineup were retired. Two consecutive singles followed by junior Ceara Barker (Sacramento, Calif.), making her firt at-bat of the day, and Wilkinson to drive in a run and put the game-winning runs on base. Both runners advanced to load the bases when Ryan reached first on a wild pitch. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, junior Kaitlin Flynn (Johnstown, Colo.) stepped to the plate, going 0-for-3 earlier during the game, and forced an error by the CSU shortstop to drive in the tying and winning runs.

"This win means a lot to our team and to our program and it is exactly what we need heading into our conference season," Easley said.

Marcovecchio and Wilkinson recorded two hits each while the former was able to drive in two RBI's and also score two runs herself. Yuhas also recorded two RBI's, coming off the Bears' only home run of the day. Three pitchers combined for the win while Wilkinson received the win by striking out two batters in two innings pitched.

Northern Colorado opens Big Sky play this weekend while traveling to Weber State. The Bears and Wildcats will play a doubleheader at 2 and 4 p.m. on Friday, March 28 followed by a single game at 12 p.m. on Sunday.