(From MSSU Lions Athletic News)
Tahlequah, Okla. - The Missouri Southern softball squad earned a split at Northeastern State with a high-powered 19-12 game-two victory after falling 4-2 in game one to shut down the 2018 regular season inside Riverhawks Park Saturday afternoon.
MSSU (22-29, 9-16 MIAA) got out to a 2-0 lead coming out of the third after two-hole hitter Elizabeth Windsordropped a double down the left field line and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Then with two outs, first baseman Erika Lutgen drove in Windsor on a single toward the same spot to put the Lions up 1-0 in the first. History repeated itself in the third as Windsor doubled again and was knocked in this time by shortstop Shelby Friend for the second run.
Junior pitcher Taurean Guzman prevented the Riverhawks (29-23, 15-10) from plating a single run through five until NSU answered with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to erase the deficit and end up on top 4-2 toward a game-one victory.
Windsor and Friend each provided two hits to begin the day, while Windsor rounded the bases twice to register both runs in the loss.
The Lions put pressure on the Riverhawks' defense right out of the gate for two runs scored and runners on first and third with no outs, causing NSU to make a pitching change. Two batters later, freshman catcher Sydney Gardner launched a three-run shot over the right field wall to increase the lead to five at the conclusion MSSU's half of the first. It was Gardner's first homerun of her colligate career.
NSU responded with a solo homerun to start the bottom of the first and went on to add three more to find themselves down only one after one inning of play. An inning later, Northeastern State recorded a pair of solo-homers to take a one-run lead (6-5), and produced a run in the third and fourth to increase its lead to three.
Southern instantly inserted runners on second and third which brought up Ashley Caldarella who doubled in two RBIs on the first pitch that she saw to bring the Lions within one. Gardner continued her hot hitting through a single to right field to tie the game 8-8.
One batter later brought Emilee Meyer to the plate and she delivered one to center field, scoring Gardner as the Lions regained the lead. They tacked on three more in the fifth off two singles by Windsor and Angel Badalamenti to take a four-run advantage (12-8).
The Riverhawks battled back with three runs in the bottom half of the fifth as both teams combined for ten runs in the inning.
Gardner led off the sixth by reaching on a single up the middle, leading to the Lions loading the bases for Windsor who crushed a grand-slam over the right-field wall to cap off the scoring in top of the sixth (16-11). The Lions ended the on-slough with three runs to extend the lead to seven heading into the bottom of the seventh and secured the 19-12 win.
Gardner finished at a perfect 4-for-4 clip in game two for a team-high five RBIs and four runs scored. She is now one of 11 players to cross the plate four times throughout a single game in program history. Windsor went a combined 6-for-9 in both games, including a grand slam and two doubles, for five RBIs as well to go along with five runs scored on the day.