(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS - Hailee Gregerson hit a walk-off home run to give the Montana State University Billings softball team an extra-inning, come-from-behind victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Monday afternoon against Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponent Central Washington University at Avitus Group Stadium.
Gregerson’s solo blast in the bottom of the eighth inning helped the Yellowjackets claim a 13-12 win in the opener, before the Wildcats rallied to take the series finale 12-4 in six innings. MSUB moved to 4-12 overall on the season with the split, and is now 1-3 in league play.
Brittanee Fisher hit two three-run home runs in the opener, as she keyed comeback rallies when the ‘Jackets trailed 4-0 and 12-7 during the game. Fisher went 4-for-5 with six RBIs in the doubleheader, while Gregerson added her second home run of the day in Game 2. Marin Penney and Sidney Pollard each also hit home runs for the Yellowjackets.
Theresa Moyle went 5-for-9 with two three-run home runs and seven RBIs in the doubleheader to lead the Wildcats, who improved to 7-7 overall on the year and started conference play with a 3-1 record.
Game 1 – MSU Billings 13, Central Washington 12 (8 Innings)
After MSUB reliever Alyssa Etheridge retired the side in order in the top of the eighth inning, Gregerson stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the frame. Despite falling behind in the count 1-2, the senior drilled a high fastball over the fence in center field to end the game.
The Yellowjackets had to overcome multiple significant deficits to earn the win, as the Wildcats jumped ahead 4-0 in the top of the first inning. Fisher’s first big home run of the day came in the bottom of the frame, as she rode an outside pitch over the fence in right-center to bring home Brie Frazier and Skyler Jenkins.
Morgan Quimby came through with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the third inning, which gave the ‘Jackets their first lead of the afternoon up 6-5.
A big fourth inning by the Wildcats dug the ‘Jackets into a hole however, as CWU sent nine hitters to the plate and scored five times. Moyle’s three-run blast highlighted the frame, and Gracee Dwyer hit a two-run shot that put the visitors up by four runs once again. CWU scored twice more in the fifth, opening up their largest lead of the game to that point at 12-7.
The deficit for MSUB would have been even larger, if it hadn’t been for the team’s top defensive play of the day by center fielder Brie Frazier. After racing in to catch a shallow fly ball off the bat of Sydney Brown, Frazier followed through and gunned down pinch runner Makenna King trying to tag up from third for an inning-ending double play.
Pollard led off the bottom of the fifth inning with her second home run in as many days, and Frazier and Jenkins each reached base to set the table once again for Fisher. The senior slugger rifled a line drive to deep center field, and got the ‘Jackets back within a single run as it cleared the fence.
The deepest home run of the day came off the bat of Penney, when she sent the first pitch of the bottom of the sixth inning smashing off of the rock barrier against the hill well beyond the fence in left-center field. The solo shot proved to be crucial, as it tied the score and helped the ‘Jackets get the game to extra innings.
MSUB starter Julia Qualteri allowed eight runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and three walks in three innings of work. Haley Couch tossed two frames in the middle of the game, before Etheridge finished it off with three shutout innings to earn the victory.
CWU used four pitchers in the game, with Isabel Womack pitching the majority of it allowing seven runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and four walks in four innings of work. Samantha Stanfield took the loss, allowing Gregerson’s walk-off homer as her only run surrendered in two innings of relief.
Game 2 – Central Washington 12, MSU Billings 4 (6 Innings)
Rhaney Harris earned her third win of the season, going the distance and receiving plenty of run support to seal the series victory for the Wildcats. The right-hander allowed four runs on nine hits with a pair of strikeouts and walks while throwing 91 pitches in her six innings of work.
Etheridge started the second game, giving up seven runs on six hits with one strikeout and a pair of walks in 2 2/3 innings. Jenna Kister finished the series in the circle for MSUB, giving up five runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and a walk in 3 1/3 innings.
After each team scored in the firs inning, Frazier gave MSUB the lead with an RBI-double into the left-field corner in the bottom of the second.
The lead didn’t last for long however, as the Wildcats struck for six runs in the top of the third. Moyle deposited her second three-run homer over the fence in center, before Sasha Mitchell followed with a three-run shot over the fence in left to open up a 7-2 advantage.
MSUB appeared poised for a rally as it put its first two hitters on in the bottom of the third, but the Wildcats turned a rare triple play on a line drive wipe out MSUB’s momentum.
Gregerson’s second home run of the day was a towering fly ball into the left-field corner, that managed to stay fair and bring home Penney in the bottom of the fourth to get the ‘Jackets within four runs.
CWU delivered the final blow in the top of the sixth inning when Brown – who had a solo homer in the top of the fourth – ripped a bases-loaded triple into the right-field corner to make the score 11-4. Dwyer followed with what proved to be the game-winning hit, and Harris stranded a runner on second base in the bottom of the sixth inning to end the game early.
THE BUZZ: Fisher was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…Game 1 was Fisher’s first-career multi-homer game…Fisher now has 24 career home runs.
NEXT UP: The Yellowjackets host Humboldt State University in a four-game non-conference series next weekend at Avitus Group Stadium. Doubleheaders are set for March 27-28, with live coverage available online here [msubsports.com].