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Shutout, walk-off make up MSU Billings season-opening sweep

Posted at 9:06 PM, Feb 02, 2018

(MSU Billings release)

LAS VEGAS – In the first day of the 2018 softball season the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets (2-0) earned two wins in very different way at the Desert Stinger in Las Vegas. The day started with a 14-0 win over the University of Mary Marauders (1-1) and ended with a walk-off 8-6 win over the Academy of Art Urban Knights (0-1).

Game 1 – Yellowjackets 14, Mary 0

It was a dominating debut for the Montana State University Billings softball team on Friday as the Yellowjackets scored a 14-0 win over the University of Mary (0-1).

MSUB scored seven runs in both the second and third inning while sophomore Maddy Lincoln (2-0, 0.00 ERA) controlled the game from the circle allowing just one hit while striking out six Mary batters in the abbreviated five-inning contest.

Seven Yellowjackets record hits in the first game of the day, led by senior Heather Tracy who went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI.

Freshmen flourished in their first outing highlighted by Billings native Brittanee Fisher who drove in four runs on two hits after hitting her first collegiate home run in the top of the third inning. Fisher started at third base in her first collegiate game recording one assist. Classmates Allie Hughes and Georgiabelle Benning also picked up hits in their first collegiate game. Hughes finished the day 2-for-4 with three RBI as the Sparks, Nev. native started in left field in her return to her home state.

The scoring started with Cameron Cassinelli crossing the plate after an error by the Mary defense. Cassinelli reached base three times in the game on two walks and a hit-by-pitch. A Hughes-single plated Madison Kelly and Myrissa Prince to make it 3-0. The very next batter, Amanda Barham, struck a two-run single of her own to score Hughes and Jessica Bagnell. The scoring ended when Fisher recorded her first collegiate hit along with a pair of RBI to make 7-0 in the top of the second.

In the third, Benning scored the first run after entering the game as a pinch runner for Kelly. Another single from Hughes followed by a walk and a hit-by pitch loaded the bases for a two-run single for Tracy. Megan Dettling drove in one more before Fisher’s two run shot made the score 13-0. The Yellowjackets would again load the bases on a Cassinelli walk and singles from Benning and Prince. Bagnell drew a walk to bring home the final run of the game and make it 14-0.

The Marauders had a baserunner reach on an error in the bottom of the third followed by a single but Lincoln worked her way out of the trouble to keep the shutout intact. It is the third scoreless outing of more than one inning in Lincoln’s career.

Game 2 – Yellowjackets 8, Academy of Art 6

In the second game of the day, the Yellowjackets turned to Megan Dettling (0-0, 6.63 ERA) in the circle against the Academy of Art Urban Knights. After giving up just two runs through six inning of play the ‘Jackets led 6-2 heading into the seventh. The Urban Knights battled back and filled the bases with just two outs remaining in the game. That is when Brenna Youngquist tied the game with a grand slam for the Knights.

Lincoln entered the game in relief and induced an inning-ending double play. MSUB’s bats were silent in the bottom of the seventh sending the game to extra innings.

With tournament rules in place, the Knight started the eighth inning with a runner on second. Following a hit-by-pith, Academy of Art moved their runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt but Lincoln delivered two clutch strikeouts to end the threat.

Tracy was placed on second to begin the latter half of the eighth inning bringing Dettling to the plate and she delivered. The senior blasted a two-run shot over the center field fence to secure the Yellowjackets second victory of the day.

Earlier in the game, MSUB trailed 2-0 after three and a half innings but the offense came alive in the bottom of the fourth. Barham led off the inning with a double with Tracy and Dettling following with a single and a walk to load the bases. After an outstanding performance earlier in the day, Fisher was walked with the bases loaded and no outs to plate the ‘Jackets’ first run.

After a pitching change, Cassinelli continued the onslaught with a two-run single giving MSUB a 3-2 lead. Shayla Felix had her first RBI of the day on a single up the middle to cap the innings scoring.

In the bottom of the sixth it was Felix again making an impact with her bat as the junior transfer drove in Cassinelli on a two-run home run to left field. The runs proved crucial down the stretch as they gave the Yellowjackets a four-run, 6-2, cushion.

In total, Tracy collected four hits during Friday’s action and Fisher delivered a team leading five RBI. Lincoln starts the season 2-0 after a gem in the first game and a clutch relief performance in the second. With the wins the ‘Jackets are off to their first 2-0 start since 2012 when they beat Metro State and Grand Canyon at the Desert Stinger.

Tomorrow the Yellowjackets will play Azusa Pacific (1-0) and Colorado Christian University. Azusa defeated Stanislaus State 7-0 in their first game of the season and will play MSUB at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time on Saturday.

The Colorado Christian Cougars have a pair of evening games against No. 5 Humboldt State (0-1), who was upset by Minot State on Friday, and Western Washington to finish play on Friday night. They will take on MSUB at 2:00 p.m. (PST).