Softball goes 2-2 during weekend

By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION

EDMOND, Okla. – Fort Hays State had its hopes of hosting a home series in the MIAA Tournament dashed on Saturday in a pair of losses to No. 13 ranked Central Oklahoma. The Tigers fell by scores of 5-3 and 8-1 and slipped to fifth place in the MIAA standings at the close of the regular season, seeing Rogers State charge past for fourth place on Saturday with a sweep of Washburn.

With the wins, Central Oklahoma captured at least a share of the MIAA regular season championship as Central Missouri still has a makeup doubleheader to play at Washburn on Monday. The official announcement of the MIAA Tournament bracket will be made on Monday following that doubleheader. Barring any unforeseen circumstances or announcements, the Tigers will most likely be the No. 5 seed in the MIAA Tournament and will travel to Rogers State for the 3-game opening round series, May 7-8.

Rogers State went on a six-game win streak at the end of the season to jump past the Tigers in the standings, sweeping its final three doubleheaders to finish 18-8 in the MIAA. The Tigers finished 17-9 in conference play, sweeping two of their final three doubleheaders. Fort Hays State was the last team to defeat Rogers State as the teams split a doubleheader in Hays back on April 23.

Game 1: Central Oklahoma 5, Fort Hays State 3

The Bronchos scored in each of the first four innings and held on to take game one. The Bronchos jumped out to a 3-0 lead, saw it shrink to 3-2, but eventually led by three again and the Tigers could only counter with one more run.

Central Oklahoma picked up the game’s first run in the first inning on a Tiger error that would have been the end of the inning. The Bronchos extended their lead in the second with their first hit of the game, a two-run home run by Allie Eicher.

The Tigers instantly jumped back to within a run of the Bronchos in the third inning when Sara Breckbill drove the ball over the wall in left field for her second homer of the season, a two-run shot.

Central Oklahoma picked up another run in the third when Hazel Puempel tripled and came home on a sacrifice fly by Shayla Harper. The Bronchos manufactured their final run of the contest in the fourth with a walk and a couple of singles as Tarin Dubler drove in a run. That was the end of the road for Michaelanne Nelson, who allowed four earned runs on four hits and three walks. Megan Jamison took over in the circle from that point and she gave the Tigers another strong relief effort. She kept the Bronchos scoreless and scattered three hits the rest of the way.

Loren Beggs, who was the only Tiger with multiple hits in the game, tripled to open the fifth inning. Breckbill brought Beggs home with a groundout as she drove home all three runs for FHSU in the game.

The Tigers could not find a rally in the sixth or seventh, retired in order both innings. Kylee Lynch pitched a complete game for the Bronchos, allowing one earned run on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts. The loss mathematically eliminated the Tigers from any hope of a conference regular season title.

Game 2: Central Oklahoma 8, Fort Hays State 1

The Bronchos jumped out to a 3-0 lead early and pulled away late for the doubleheader sweep. Back-to-back home runs by Jacee Minter (2-run) and Hazel Puempel (solo) put UCO on top 3-0 after one inning.

Though they put a solid swing on the ball several times, the Tigers were unable to find many holes against Corinna Rivas, who threw a complete game in the circle for the Bronchos. The Tigers produced two of their three hits in the game in the third inning to plate their only run. Sarah Tiffany doubled and then later came in to score on a Lily Sale RBI single. Tiffany had two of the three hits for the Tigers. Rivas finished with one strikeout and two walks allowed.

The Bronchos extended their lead in the fourth inning after an error helped plate a pair of runs. In the sixth, Puempel doubled home a run and Shayla Harper followed with a two-run wall-scraping homer just inside the left foul pole, making it 8-1.

Hailey Chapman threw a complete game for the Tigers, allowing 12 hits and two walks. She struck out one batter.

Look for an official announcement of seeds and the MIAA Tournament bracket on Monday evening

Friday

WICHITA, Kan. – Fort Hays State Softball took care of business on Friday (Apr. 30) by sweeping a doubleheader at Newman University. The Tigers won by scores of 6-2 and 9-1, improving to 24-18 overall on the season and 17-7 in the MIAA. The Tigers remained fourth in the MIAA standings with two games to play.

The conference standings and tournament scenario surrounding the Tigers remains the same going into Saturday’s doubleheader at Central Oklahoma. The Tigers remain fourth in the standings, a half-game behind Missouri Southern for third in the standings, since Missouri Southern swept its Friday doubleheader with Northwest Missouri State. Missouri Western and Rogers State both remain a game behind the Tigers, since Missouri Western swept Pittsburg State and Rogers State swept Emporia State.

The one interesting change was Nebraska-Kearney taking one of two games at Central Oklahoma, which brings UCO back into a tie for first in the loss column with Central Missouri going into the doubleheader with FHSU on Saturday. This leaves the Tigers alive for the MIAA regular season championship, which is possible if FHSU sweeps UCO on Saturday, Central Missouri drops at least two of four games remaining, and Missouri Southern wins one or less against Missouri Western. Saturday will be crucial in deciding the top four spots in the MIAA standings. Not only will the Tigers be fighting for the potential of a conference title, but also fighting to hold off Missouri Western and Rogers State charging right behind in the standings.

Game 1: Fort Hays State 6, Newman 2
Fort Hays State had several opportunities to score over the first three innings, but the first contest of the day remained scoreless up until the fourth inning. That’s when Sarah Tiffany broke through with a solo homer to give FHSU at 1-0 lead.

Sara Breckbill started a big rally for the Tigers in the fifth by leading off with a double. Kristen Reed then picked up an RBI by driving in Breckbill with a single. Jessica Espinoza followed with a single and Reed came around to score after an error by the Jet outfielder. Elise Capra capped a three-run inning for the Tigers by driving in a run on a groundout.

Michaelanne Nelson worked around baserunners in four of the first five innings in the pitching circle. The Jets tallied their only runs of the game in the sixth by leading off the inning with a single then home run to instantly cut the Tiger lead to 4-2. Nelson would go on to put out another early fire in the seventh inning following a pair of insurance runs by the Tigers that made the final margin four. The Tigers picked up the pair of runs in the seventh on a solo homer by Capra and an RBI single by Lily Sale.

The Tigers generated 10 hits in the game, led by Sale and Breckbill each with two. Nelson moved to 11-10 on the season with 12 strikeouts, a new career high for her at Fort Hays State. She scattered seven hits and walked one in her complete-game effort. Madison Dewitt threw a complete game for the Jets, but did not have any strikeouts.

Game 2: Fort Hays State 9, Newman 1
The Tigers scored a run in the second and third innings before really putting their foot on the gas with seven runs over the fourth and fifth innings to produce a 9-1 run-rule win after five innings. Newman picked up its only run in the fourth after FHSU opened with a 5-0 lead.

In the second inning, Katie Adler drove home Jessica Espinoza with an RBI single. An inning later, Espinoza picked up an RBI on a grounder to the right side.

In the fourth, Terran Caldwell was hit by a pitch, Sarah Tiffany singled, and Adler walked to set up a big inning with no outs. Lily Sale brought home the first run with a sacrifice fly, then Loren Beggs doubled home a pair of runs.

Back-to-back singles by Elise Capra and Caldwell and a Newman error gave the Tigers another prime run-scoring opportunity. Tiffany took advantage with a sacrifice fly RBI. With two outs, Adler drove home a run with an RBI single. Lily Sale doubled and Beggs walked to load the bases. Breckbill made the Jets pay with a 2-RBI double, extending FHSU’s lead to 9-1.

Hailey Chapman had six strikeouts against the Jets in the first three innings before allowing her only run of the game in the fourth. She kept the Jets scoreless in the fifth to invoke the run-rule, getting her seventh strikeout to end the game. She allowed just three hits and walked one, moving to 12-7 on the year with the complete game win.

Both Beggs and Adler finished the game a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, helping the Tigers to 12 hits as a team, and both also drew one walk. Caldwell was also perfect at the dish in the game, 2-for-2 along with being hit by a pitch.

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