The University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagle Softball team finished the game strong, but the University of Sioux Falls Cougars was able to win the game 5-4 in eight innings in the first game and errors were costly in a 8-1 loss in game two of a Northern Sun Conference doubleheader played on a warm and windy day in Crookston. It was the first home games for UMC since May of 2019.
GAME ONE –
Sioux Falls struck first in the top of the second inning while taking advantage of a leadoff walk. The next batter doubled, and the Cougars led 1-0.
Sioux Falls opened the game up with three runs in the top of the fifth inning. They started with a leadoff single. The next batter reached on an error. After a strikeout, the next batter walked to load the bases. The next Cougar batter singled in two runs for a 3-0 lead. UMC elected to make a pitching change, and the next batter grounded out for the second out of the inning. The UMC defense committed another error on the next batter, and a run scored to give Sioux Falls a 4-0 lead.
UMC’s bats finally came alive in the sixth inning, and it couldn’t have been a better time. Sarah Velasquez (Fresh. Chino, CA) led off the inning with a single. Dana Zarn (Soph. Winnipeg, Manitoba) followed with another single. Rachel Jones (Fresh. Fort Collins, CO) doubled to score two runs to bring the Golden Eagles within a 4-2 deficit with nobody out. The next two UMC batters flew out, but the Golden Eagle bats weren’t done. Shaelyn Grant (Fresh. Grand Junction, CO) doubled to score another run. After a Sioux Falls pitching change, Grant advanced to third base on a passed ball, Hannah Macias (Jr. West Covina, CA) walked and stole second base, and on the play, Grant scored to tie the game at 4-4. “To see us come back and tie the game up, that speaks highly of our team,” said UMC Head Coach Travis Owen.
Both teams had one hit apiece in the seventh inning and didn’t score, forcing extra innings.
In the top of the eighth inning, the first two Sioux Falls batters were retired, but the third out was a struggle for the UMC defense. With two outs, Sioux Falls doubled, followed by an RBI bloop single, that got some help from the wind, to give them a 5-4 lead. “Some tough luck there… the wind was really whipping and kept the ball in front of our outfield, but that’s how the game goes,” added Coach Owen. Sioux Falls followed with a single and a walk to load the bases, but the next batter flew out to left field and Sioux Falls took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning.
UMC was unable to put anything together in the bottom of the inning giving Sioux Falls the win in Game One by a 5-4 score.
FOR THE GAME ONE BOX SCORE, CLICK HERE
Each team was able to get a runner on in the first inning, but left them stranded to keep the game at a scoreless tie after one inning.
The second inning is when the Cougars made their move as they jumped to a 5-0 lead using just four hits to score the five runs. A Golden Eagles error allowed the leadoff hitter to reach, and after in infield pop out, back-to-back singles gave the Cougars their first run. A walk loaded the bases and after a shallow fly to left field there were two outs. Another shallow fly ball looked like it was going to end the inning with limited damage, but some miscommunication along with a strong wind created an error and allowed two more runs to come across. That prolonged the inning and the next two batters singled, scoring another run and loading the bases once again. Another UMC error on a throw back to the pitcher allowed the runner from third to score before an infield pop out ended the inning with two runners still in scoring position. “If we wipe that inning, I know that’s a big ‘if’, but if we stop that by making a couple of plays, that game probably takes a different turn,” said Owen.
UMC went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the second inning.
The Golden Eagles bounced back nicely getting a scoreless inning despite two singles from Sioux Falls.
UMC got on the board in the bottom of the third when Hannah Macias drew a leadoff walk, Velasquez singled her to second, and Zarn drove in Macias with a single of her own making it a 5-1 score.
The Cougars were able to answer back in the top of the fourth, capitalizing on a leadoff walk. The next batter drove a ball into the left-center field gap for an RBI double and advanced to third on the throw to home. Two batters later the Cougars scored on a sacrifice fly to right field to increase their lead to 7-1.
UMC was retired in order in the bottom of the fourth keeping it at a 7-1 score.
After a scoreless fifth inning, Sioux Falls got another insurance run with a two-out, two-strike, solo homerun from the Cougars cleanup hitter to make it 8-1.
Both teams were scoreless the rest of the game. The Golden Eagles got a couple of runners on base, but were unable to bring them around in the seventh inning as Hanna Cress finished off her complete game for the Cougars holding UMC to just four hits and three walks while striking out 15 Golden Eagles. “She really pitched well. She got us with some low-rise, some high-rise, and a good changeup… it’s a tough combo,” explained Coach Owen.
FOR THE GAME TWO BOX SCORE, CLICK HERE
This was the beginning of a tough stretch of ten games in ten days for UMC. They will get a chance to get back into the win column Saturday when Southwest Minnesota State travels to UMC for a double-header that starts at noon.
UMC is now 5-13 overall, and 1-3 in NSIC play on the season. Sioux Falls improves to 9-9.