KANSAS CITY, Mo. --- The University of North Dakota softball team went 0-2 in the first day of the UMKC Dakota's Round Robin Tournament today.
The Sioux opened against South Dakota and kept them quiet for most of the game holding them scoreless until their final set of at-bats when the Coyotes exploded for five runs to rally past the Sioux 5-3.
Missouri-Kansas City nearly followed suite as the Sioux nearly pulled of their own seventh-inning rally in the day's finale, scoring three but falling short as the Kangaroos escaped 4-3.
Highlighting the day for the Sioux was sophomore Brittany Baker (Buena Park, Calif.) who went 5-for-6 from the plate with two home runs, two doubles and one single while collecting four RBI. She now has a team-leading nine home runs.
USD 5, UND 3
The Sioux were 4-for-4 in its last four games against its biggest rival South Dakota dating back to the Great West Conference Tournament last season (2-for-2 this season), but a seventh-inning rally allowed the Coyotes to end that streak today.
After a dominating performance on Thursday where sophomore Emma Gronseth (Forest Grove, Ore.) pitched a one-hitter and took a perfect game into the sixth inning when Mayville State broke it up with a home run, Gronseth again was overwhelming early in today's game. She held the Coyotes scoreless through six innings and allowed only three base-runners off one hit and two walks.
The Sioux took a 2-0 lead into the final inning but things unraveled in the seventh frame as senior Mel Johnson led off the inning with a home run which was just the start of a big inning.
The Coyotes would then bat through the line-up without hitting a ball out of the infield. The hit-batter, walk and three infield singles equaled the game at three runs apiece. With the bases still loaded, Alex Rudeen connected for the first hit of the inning out of the infield to left centerfield pushing the fourth and fifth runs of the inning across home plate.
Sophomore Michelle Frank (Chaska, Minn.) entered the game and struck out Johnson in her second at-bat of the frame to end the inning.
The Sioux attempted their own rally loading the bases in the bottom half of the seventh inning, but Paige Policky got out of the inning allowing only one run to improve to 6-3 on the season. Gronseth drops to 3-11 on the year.
Sophomore Brittany Baker (Buena Park, Calif.) and freshman Amanda Johnson (Ashby, Minn.) each connected for solo-shot home runs to centerfield in the fourth inning to gain a 2-0 lead. Baker also lead the team with two hits adding a double.
The Sioux stranded nine runners on base in the game.
UMKC 4, UND 3
The Kangaroos struck first with a two-run homer in the second inning as Danielle Bennefeld swatted one over the centerfield fence.
Baker picked up the first hit for the Sioux in the second inning but UMKC quickly turned a double play. The 'Roos faced the minimum amount of batters through the first three innings. They also kept the Sioux from getting runners into scoring position by converting three fielder's choices.
UMKC added to their lead with solo runs in each of the fourth and sixth innings.
This time it was the Sioux that broke up the shutout bid with a seventh-inning rally attempt. UMKC pitcher Anna Sokolik went through the first six innings without giving up a run and allowing only three hits, but freshman Caralyn Chewning (Willamina, Ore.) and Kenna Olsen (Issaquah, Wash.) set the table with singles for Baker's second home run of the day. Her blast to left center cut the lead to 4-3.
Deanna Friese would relieve Sokolik and walk freshman Courtney Gonzales (Costa Mesa, Calif.), but would strike out the next three batters to pick up the save.
Sokolik improved to 3-0 while Frank drops to 6-9. Frank pitched the complete game allowing four runs off eight hits.
Baker went 3-for-3 with the home run and added a double and a single.