(Photo courtesy MSU Billings)

(MSU Billings release)

LAS VEGAS – Finishing a seven-game Vegas road trip on Tuesday, Montana State University Billings softball (5-2) split a double header against the University of Hawaii Hilo Vulcans (5-2) at Majestic Park. The Yellowjackets lost a 3-2 ballgame to start the afternoon before earning a 6-3 win in the nightcap to capture their fifth win of the season.

In the first game, the Yellowjackets were challenged by the University of Hawaii Hilo’s ace Cyanne Fernandez. MSUB was held to six hits and just two runs in the game as the Vulcans scratched across three early runs and let their pitching a defense do the rest. Cameron Cassinelli had the ‘Jackets’ only RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth.

The final game of the evening featured 13 hits from the Yellowjackets as Megan Dettling picked up her first win of the season with six inning in the circle where she recorded seven strikeouts. Jessica Bagnell recorded the first three-hit game of her career in the nightcap while Maddy Lincoln recorded her first career save. Cassinelli record an RBI in her third consecutive game and has five RBI in the last three games for the ‘Jackets. Tracy drew the 11th walk of her career in the game, the senior drew one walk all of last season.

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GAME 1: Hawaii Hilo 3, MSU Billings 2

Great pitching from the Vulcans’ Cyanne Fernandez (4-0, 1.38 ERA) was the story of the first game on Tuesday as the senior threw a complete game while allowing no earned runs against the Yellowjackets. Hilo plated two runs on freshman Haley Couch (1-1, 1.91 ERA) in the first inning and added an unearned run in the third to give their senior ace just enough to win the game.

Couch pitched well through 2.1 innings but the Hilo offense made the most of their five hits against the freshman before Maddy Lincoln entered for 4.2 innings of scoreless relief. The offense was silent the first time through the order as Fernandez held them hitless through three innings.

The Yellowjacket offense came alive in the bottom of the fourth when Amanda Barham led off the inning with her third double of the season. She advanced to third on a sharply stuck single from Heather Tracy putting runners on the corners. With Megan Dettling at the plate, Tracy used her speed to steal second and give MSUB runners on second and third with no outs. However the Fernandez would keep the ‘Jackets scoreless with a strikeout followed by a pair of fly outs to silence the MSUB threat.

Lincoln continued to diligently work through the Vulcans’ order to give the MSUB offense the opportunity to get back in the game and they did just that in the bottom of the sixth.

Barham recorded her second hit of the game with a single and Tracy followed with a deep double of the left field fence to put runners on second and third. Dettling put a ball in play that resulted in the Vulcans’ only error in the game as Barham scored the first MSUB run of the day. Cameron Cassinelli recorded her seventh RBI of the season on a sacrifice fly that scored Tracy cutting the lead to 3-2.

It was a dramatic finish in the seventh inning as MSUB loaded the bases on a two-out walk by Georgiabelle Benning. Myrissa Prince led off the inning by beating out an infield single and advanced to second on a well-hit single by Allie Hughes. However the Yellowjackets could not push the run across as Fernandez finished a fantastic performance in the circle by inducing a groundout to the pitcher.

Tracy finished the game with two hits making her the third player in MSUB softball history to record 200 hits in a career. She also picked up her fourth stolen base of the season in the game.

GAME 2: MSU Billings 6, Hawaii Hilo 3

Starting in the circle, Megan Dettling (1-1, 4.44 ERA) took the field with a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after Tracy scored the first run of the game on an error. In the bottom of the inning Hilo’s offense knocked a lead-off double but Dettling settled in to retire the next six consecutive batters she faced.

In the fourth inning things got going again for the Yellowjacket offense as Jessica Bagnell recorded her second hit of the game with double to bring home Kelsee Bushell who had singled to lead off the inning. A Barham single would bring Bagnell home to give MSUB a 3-0 lead.

Hilo answered quickly in the bottom of the fourth frame as Bailey Gaspar hit a lead-off double. Dettling battled back with a strikeout and a pop up before a homer from the Vulcans’ Kacie Freudenberger made the score 3-2.

With a one run lead, the MSU Billings offense kept hammering on their way to recording 13 hits in the game as Dettling settled back in. Cassinelli drew a walk to start the fifth and worked her way to third on a pair of productive outs. Shayla Felix delivered and RBI single bring the lead to 4-2 heading to the bottom of the fifth Dettling struck out the side.

The MSUB scoring barrage continued in the sixth as Barham and Tracy reached on a single and a walk respectively to lead off the inning. Dettling hit into a fielder’s choice moving Barham to third and putting the MSUB-pitcher on first. With runners on the corners, Cassinelli delivered a double to the warning track that scored Barham and put Dettling at third. Prince Drove in the sixth run of the evening to put the ‘Jackets up 6-2.

A solo home run for the Vulcans in the bottom of the sixth would make the score 6-3 but Lincoln would come in for her first career save in the seventh. Lincoln retired all three batters she faced in the nightcap and lowered her ERA to 0.95 after throwing 5.2 scoreless innings on Tuesday.

Dettling finished the game with a season-high seven strikeouts while giving up five hits. She now has 21 punch-outs this season in 17.1 innings.

The Yellowjackets will stay on the road as they travel to St. George, Utah tonight where they will compete in the Dixie State Easton Classic Thursday through Saturday. MSUB will play five games at the classic starting Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Mountain time against Colorado State University Pueblo.

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