(Editor’s note: University of Montana athletics release)
MISSOULA — For the second time in two games, Montana rallied past Portland State for a victory. Sunday’s comeback, a 7-4 win after trailing 3-0, gave the Grizzlies a three-game sweep of the Vikings at Grizzly Softball Field in Missoula.
Montana (14-26, 4-5 BSC) won twice on Saturday, 9-1 and 11-7, the latter after falling behind 7-2 through five and a half innings. The Grizzlies won that game by scoring nine runs in the sixth.
Sunday’s deficit was three runs going into the bottom of the third. Again it was a big inning — four runs on four hits in the third — plus another run in the fourth and two more in the fifth that got it done.
“There was a lot of game left, and we’ve shown that if you give this team a little bit of time, we’ll compete hard for the outcome we want,” said coach Melanie Meuchel, whose team batted .395 in the series.
“There is no guarantee you’ll get that outcome, but I know the heart of this team and the desire of this team. It was one of those, okay, let’s get our feet back underneath us.”
Montana was in the position to have to regroup because of the bat of Portland State shortstop Darian Lindsey, who led off the game with a home run to right-center off Montana starter Michaela Hood.
Lindsey would add an RBI double off Hood in the second as the Vikings (13-24, 2-6 BSC) jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
After Hood had given up three runs on four hits through two innings, Meuchel brought Colleen Driscoll on in the top of the third.
Driscoll won the series opener on Saturday, allowing one run and six hits over six innings in a complete game. She was just as effective on Sunday, allowing one run and two hits in five innings of work.
She held Portland State without a hit in the third, fourth and fifth innings. The Vikings managed an infield single in the sixth, and Lindsey struck again in the seventh. But her fifth home run of the season came after Montana had scored seven straight runs and mostly put the game out of reach.
“That was a great weekend for Colleen,” said Meuchel. “She really commanded what she wanted to command and threw pitches when she needed to throw them. She was very solid for us.”
Trailing 3-0, Montana broke through in the bottom of the third. Lexi Knauss led off the inning with a walk, and Cami Sellers followed with a single, her second hit of the day that extended her hitting streak to 13 games.
Maygen McGrath, who went 3 for 4 on Sunday and batted .500 for the series, made it 3-1 with a single to right. Katie Pippel followed with an RBI single up the middle, and Montana was within one.
After Katie Schroeder replaced Serafine Parrish at pitcher for Portland State, Schroeder got a strikeout with the bases loaded, then a ground ball to the usually reliable Lindsey at short.
Lindsey stepped on second, but her throw to first, which would have ended the inning with the Vikings on top, was wide. Two runs scored on the play, giving the Grizzlies a lead they would never give back.
McGrath made it 5-3 with an RBI double in the fourth. Kylie Hayton added an RBI single in the fifth. One batter later, pinch hitter Brooklyn Weisgram doubled to right-center to score Hayton all the way from first.
Montana led 7-3, thanks to lock-down pitching by Driscoll and an offense that continued to come through with big hits. The Grizzlies batted .469 for the series with runners on base.
“That was one thing we did very well this weekend,” said Meuchel. “We were able to stop when things weren’t maybe on our side and gain momentum back for us.”
Montana’s 12 hits on Sunday came off the bats of eight players, with McGrath going 3 for 4, Hayton 2 for 2 and Sellers 2 for 4. McGrath drove in two runs, Knauss scored twice.
The sweep moves Montana up to the middle of the pack in the Big Sky Conference standings. All those teams are chasing Weber State, which is off to a 9-1 start in league.
The Grizzlies will play a three-game series against the Wildcats in Ogden next weekend, but not before Montana hosts Carroll in a doubleheader at Grizzly Softball Field on Tuesday.
“We’re excited to play Carroll and to be able to work on a few things and get more games in,” said Meuchel.
“But we know lying in front of us is Weber State. They are playing hot and playing well. It will be fun to go down there and compete and lay everything on the line. I’m excited to go to Ogden with this team.”
The doubleheader between Montana and Carroll will start at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The Grizzlies and Wildcats will play a doubleheader on Friday starting at 2 p.m., then play a single game at noon on Saturday.