VERMILLION, S.D. --- The University of North Dakota softball team dropped a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to South Dakota to open its action today, but bounced back to rally from down four runs in the finale to win 9-8 and split a pair of one-run games with the Coyotes.
USD 4, UND 3
A late rally pushed the Coyotes past UND in the opener scoring four runs in the final two innings to edge the home team to a 4-3 win.
Junior Amanda Johnson (Ashby, Minn.) led the charge offensively with two of UND’s six hits including a double.
UND opened the game’s scoring in the top of the third frame taking advantage of a pair of walks. With one out, USD’s Erica Denney walked back-to-back batters in Megan Keegan (Elk Grove, Ill.) and Emily Bell (Elgin, Ill.) for UND’s first base runners of the game.
After the runners advanced to second and third on the second out of the inning, Kenna Olsen (Issaquah, Wash.) came through with a clutch two-out single to left-centerfield to score both Keegan and Bell.
The game would then go scoreless until the top of the sixth inning when UND tallied three singles to push the lead to 3-0. Brittany Baker (Buena Park, Calif.) picked up the two-out hit to score Caralyn Chewning (Willamina, Ore.) from second base.
A defensive lapse proved to be the difference as UND committed the game’s only error in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs to keep the inning alive and score its first run of the game. The Coyotes’ next batter, Morgan Hancock, homered to left center field to even the game at 3-3.
The Coyotes completed the comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning as Matley Jones led off the inning with a double and Katie Cochran plated the winning run with a walk-off single up the middle.
Denney picked up the win pitching the complete game while allowing three runs off six hits with nine strikeouts. Michelle Frank (Chaska, Minn.) suffered the tough-luck loss allowing only the one earned run off six hits in five innings of work.
“A great pitching effort by Emma Gronseth and Michelle Frank was spoiled by a defensive lapse late in the game,” head coach Eric Oakley said. “This was a tough one to lose because we controlled the game most of the way.”
UND 9, USD 8
After a walk was sandwiched by a pair of outs in the first inning, UND strung together three hits and a pair of walks to jump out to 4-0 lead. Taylor Hansen (Chelsea, Mich.) picked up a key two-out double down the right-field line to push the third and fourth runs of the inning across, but UND would leave the bases loaded settling for the four-run lead.
USD answered right back as it combined to hit for the cycle in the inning as Lindsey Boyd led off the Coyote’s half of the inning with a triple, Yvon Minogue homered to right center, Morgan Hancock double down the right-field line and Matley Jones picked up a pair of RBI with a single to right field and even the game 4-4.
The Coyotes backed it up in the third inning with their second four-run inning of the game, cashing in on four singles, one walk and one error.
But it was all UND afterwards as it was its turn to rebound in game two and rally for the one-run victory to earn the split.
UND quickly responded, cutting the lead in half to trail 8-6 in its next set of at-bats in the top of the fourth frame. UND scored a pair of runs without collecting a hit as it took advantage of two walks, two stolen bases and two wild pitches.
The come-from-behind attempt was completed in the top of sixth inning as D Jantzer (Grants Pass, Ore.) had a two-RBI single and Amanda Johnson batted in the eventual game-winning run. Jantzer had a team-high three RBI and Johnson led the squad with two hits.
“As tough as the first game was to lose is as fun as this one was to win,” Oakley said. “We started six freshmen, who gave us a quick lead. After going in to an 8-4 hole Lexa Twist came in and dominated from the circle and gave us a chance to catch up and eventually take the lead. Patience at the plate and base running was key.”
Twist allowed only four hits and no runs in four innings of work while collecting eight strikeouts.