March 28, 2014

Two pitchers combine for wins against Weber State

Collin Boyles

OGDEN, Utah – Two pitchers stepped on the mound to start for the Northern Colorado softball team while just one stepped off it after wins against Weber State. Breeanna Holliday and Megan Wilkinson combined to pitch in a Friday sweep for the Bears (10-24, 2-0 Big Sky), taking its first Big Sky games of the season at the Wildcat Softball Complex.

One run separated the Bears and Wildcats through much of Game 1. UNC later added two insurance runs in a 3-0 win. Home runs contributed to half of UNC's runs in Game 2, while again beating WSU, 4-3. Head Coach Shana Easley's team is right on track of where they want to be right now.

"We talked earlier this week that heading into conference, we were 0-0," Easley said. "It's a new season. All the previous wins and losses are in the past.

"We knew what level we could play at and it was nice to come out and get a couple W's."

Six Bears recorded a hit in Game 1 including junior Nicole Hudson's (Westminster, Colo.) solo home run to lead off the second inning. The Wildcats were unable to match the score as senior pitcher Breeanna Holliday (Moorpark, Calif.) pitched a complete game shutout for her fourth win of the season. She allowed just three hits all day while striking out four batters.

The Bears play in the field denied the Wildcats of base runners throughout most of the game. WSU was able to get runners on first and second in the bottom of the fifth with two outs, but Holliday was able to record a groundout to end any threat.

Before looking to shut down Weber State in the bottom of the seventh, Northern Colorado was able to add two more runs for insurance. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for junior Melissa Marcovecchio (Broomfield, Colo.), who was able to bring two home off a single to right field. Holliday closed out the complete game win with a hitless bottom of the inning.

"Breeanna (Holliday) came out and got us going with a great performance in Game 1," Easley said. "Megan (Wilkinson) came out in Game 2 and gave us some quality innings and Breeanna was able to come back in to close the door."

During Game 2, the Bears were able to spread out the attack on the Wildcats. UNC scored runs in each of the first four innings for the second time this season. A walk eventually led to an RBI double from Hudson, her second RBI of the day. Junior Ceara Barker (Sacramento, Calif.) hit her first home run of the season in the second inning to give the Bears a quick 2-0 lead. Freshman Erica Dick (Boise, Idaho) followed the lead of Barker by leading off the top of the third inning with a home run.

Senior Megan Wilkinson (Windsor, Colo.) was able shut down the Wildcats over the first two innings, but allowed the first run of the day with two outs in the bottom of the third. An error allowed a runner on third, put on base by a triple, to bring the Bears' lead down to 3-1.

The fourth inning was the last time either team scored. Three walks allowed by Weber State loaded the bases for junior Jaicy Sutak (Lyons, Colo.) with one out. She followed with a groundout that still brought in one run. After another walk allowed to the Bears, a strikeout ended the inning with three runners left on base. Weber State was able to reduce the deficit by bringing in two runs. By the end of the fourth inning, the Bears still held the lead, 4-3.

Another triple by Weber State in the fifth inning threatened Northern Colorado's lead, but Holliday, in relief of Wilkinson, was able to strike out the next batter. After allowing one hit and one walk in the sixth, Holliday sent the Wildcats down in order in the bottom of the seventh to secure Wilkinson's fifth win of the season.

"Offensively we need to manufacture more runs and not rely on the long ball as much," Easley said "but it's nice to see the hard work we've been putting in come to light from the past few weeks."

Hudson and Dick each recorded two hits on the day, totaling four of the Bears' nine between both games. Hudson also provided two RBI's while Marcovecchio also added two. Holliday pitched 10 and a third innings to help the Bears to a Big Sky opening day sweep of the Wildcats.

The Bears finish up the first Big Sky weekend of action tomorrow at 12 p.m. UNC will look to complete the series sweep in Ogden, Utah.