Published in the March 29, 2017 issue of The Bells
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor softball team squared off against the University of the Ozarks Lady Eagles on Saturday with a chance for a three-game sweep.
It was a beautiful day for softball at Dee Dillon Field in Belton, Texas. In an exciting game, the Crusaders came out on top with a 4-2 victory.
The Cru got off to a quick start in the bottom of the first inning, when junior first baseman Karley Free ripped a double down the line to score the first run of the game. They added another run in the bottom of the second.
Freshman pinch-runner Connor O’Neal came around and scored on a wild pitch by the Lady Eagles pitcher.
The game looked to be pretty well in control until the top of the third inning. After a hit-by-pitch, Laken Gray stepped in for UO and hit a blast to left field for a game-tying two-run homerun. The Lady Eagles saw the ball very well in this inning. But freshman pitcher Cece Darilek was able to squirm out of the inning with a couple of lineouts after the big homerun.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the fourth when the Cru struck again. With one out, freshman right fielder Linsey Tomlinson reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a groundout. Senior catcher Cori Drake then hit a 3-2 pitch down the third base line and off the glove of the third baseman. As the ball trickled into foul territory, Tomlinson rounded third and scored to give the Crusaders the 3-2 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, after a walk by sophomore DH Kourtney Cummings, senior left fielder Myranda Hinojosa laced a ball to the wall in left-center field for a double, and Cummings advanced to third. Tomlinson then came up and grounded out to short.
But when the shortstop threw the ball to first, Cummings broke for home. There was a very close play at home, but Cummings was able to squeak in just under the tag and score to make it 4-2 in favor of the Cru.
“I felt pretty good,” Free said about her strong offensive showing. “It was a good day at the plate for me. It’s been kind of a struggle for me this season, so this weekend it kind of came together.”
Senior pitcher Haley Parker finished her strong weekend with a one-two-three top of the seventh inning to end the game. In the three-game series, Parker pitched in two games and in six innings gave no runs and just one hit. The entire pitching staff for the Cru had a great series, as the Lady Eagles scored just two runs over the three games.
“We needed this kind of series,” Head Coach Larry Henning said. “To give up two runs in a three game series, that boosts your confidence.”
The Cru will face off against the top team in the conference next weekend in the Louisiana College Wildcats.
The Wildcats are currently riding an 18-game winning streak. The fuel for this streak has been an incredible pitching staff that has a 1.08 team ERA. With the Cru showing a strong offense this season, it will be interesting to see which team’s strength will overcome in this series.
The team seems very confident after this sweep and they feel like they are ready for LC.
“We’re hitting the ball really hard offensively and it’s all coming together,” said senior third baseman Leah Brown.