April 4, 2014

Sacramento State upends UNC Softball in doubleheader

Collin Boyles

GREELEY -- Two early deficits gave the Northern Colorado softball team an uphill battle in a doubleheader against Sacramento State on Friday afternoon. The Bears (12-27, 3-2 Big Sky) were unable to make the comeback as the Hornets (17-15, 6-1 Big Sky) took both games, 10-2 and 9-1.

The Bears were able to stand tough in the field while turning two double plays and stranding 11 Hornets runners on base throughout both games. Juniors Kaitlin Flynn (Johnstown, Colo.) and Morgan Yuhas (Henderson, Nev.) also showed promise on the offensive side. Flynn hit a solo home run while Yuhas stole three bases on the day.

"We came out knowing that Sac State is a good pitching team and that we were going to need to put pressure on their defense," Head Coach Shana Easley said. "From an offensive standpoint we knew we were going to have to be smart in the box. From a pitching standpoint we have a lot of confidence in Breeanna (Holliday) coming out and today wasn't her day... We've got to come out and fight every pitch and unfortunately it wasn't there for us today."

Sacramento State put one run up in the first inning followed by three more in the second to take control, initially. The Bears were able to come back with one run in the third, but the Hornets again scored multiple runs in the fourth. One more run would cross for UNC, coming in the fifth, but it wasn't enough to stop a run rule in the sixth. Sacramento State took Game 1, 10-2.

In Game 2 the Bears began the game while stranding two Hornets runners on base and not allowing a run in the top of the first. The Hornets were able to string together a set of hits, including a two-run home run, that would eventually end in four runs in the top of the second inning. While the Bears didn't score through the first five innings, senior pitcher Megan Wilkinson (Windsor, Colo.) pitched two hitless innings in the third and the fourth.

Four more runs scored for Sacramento State in the top of the fifth inning, while Northern Colorado's lone run came in the bottom half. Flynn was able to lead-off with a solo home run to avoid a run rule finish in the fifth. The bases were loaded for the Hornets in the top of the sixth while the Bears allowed just one run to come home and finished the half inning out with three consecutive outs. The Hornets again won in six innings, this time by 9-1.

"We need to be more mentally aware in the game in anticipating the situation and the fundamentals that we need to do to execute the play," Easley said. "The more engaged we can be in each play the better we're going to perform."

Flynn went 2-for-4 on the day with the solo home run. Freshman Erica Dick also recorded two hits, both coming in the second game, while going 2-for 6 with two runs scored on the day. Senior Breeanna Holliday started Game 1 for the Bears while pitching 1.2 innings. Wilkinson started Game 2 while going for 4.2 innings and striking out four. Junior Mikayla Duffy pitched in relief for Game 2 and recorded two strikeouts.

The Bears and Hornets finish up the three-game series tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the Butler-Hancock Softball Field.