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MSU Billings women earn split in Tournament of Champions openers

Posted at 10:05 PM, Mar 23, 2018

(MSU Billings release)

TURLOCK, Calif. – Two four-run performances propelled the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets (11-15, 2-6 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) to a split on the first day of competition at the Tournament of Champions in Turlock, Calif. MSUB started the day with a 4-3 win over the San Francisco State University Gators (13-17, 9-10 CCAA) before dropping a 5-4 decision to host Stanislaus State University (15-13, 9-9 CCAA).

The Yellowjackets got back on the winning end of things on Friday with a strong pitching performance from Megan Dettling. Dettling held the Gators to five hits and two earned runs while receiving four runs of support from the MSUB offense.

In Game Two, a three run bottom of the fourth made all the difference for the Warriors. Stanislaus tallied 13 hits in the game while the ‘Jackets couldn’t make the most of their 10 hits offensively.

Heather Tracy was the top performer at the plate for the ‘Jackets as she finished the day 4-for-6 with three RBI. The senior now has 50 hits through 26 games this season while hitting .526.

Kelsee Bushell was 3-for-5 on the day including an RBI in the Game One win. The junior has collected hits in the past three games while raising her average to .286.

Hitting leadoff for the first time in her collegiate career, Hughes with a team-high three runs scored. The freshman recorded a hit in each game and now has 21 hits this season. Fellow freshman Brittanee Fisher hit her fourth home run of the season in the game against San Francisco State.

While playing her first game of the season out of the leadoff spot, Amanda Barham hit .500 on the day. The senior went 3-for-6 and drove in the game-winning RBI against the Gators.

GAME 1: MSU Billings 4, San Francisco State 3

Taking advantage of their home-team designation in Game One, the Yellowjackets earned a walk-off win over the San Francisco State Gators 4-3 to start the day. With game tied 3-3, Bushell started the MSUB rally with a single. Fisher followed with her second hit of the game and Madison Kelly walked to load the bases. With one out, Barham came to the plate and delivered a walk-off single for the ‘Jackets to end the game.

Megan Dettling (3-3, 5.03 ERA) earned her third win of the season while working effectively through the Gator lineup. The right-hander allowed just five hits with two earned runs while pitching a complete game. She recorded one strikeout in the game and allowed one extra-base hit.

The ‘Jackets were held hitless the first time through the lineup on Friday. Tracy and Dettling recorded back-to-back singles in the bottom of the third but the rally was snuffed out by the Gators’ Karla Soto in the circle. San Francisco State had started the scoring in the top of the third after the Gators picked up their first hit of the game to lead off the inning. A stolen base and two errors from the MSUB defense netted SFSU the 1-0 advantage on an unearned run.

In the fourth, Fisher got the MSUB offense on the board with a solo home run to right field. It was the fourth home run of the season for the freshman out of Billings Senior. Fisher is the first freshman since Cameron Cassinelli, who hit six homers as a freshman, to hit four or more homers in her first year at MSUB.

Tracy delivered the first lead of the day for the ‘Jackets with an RBI-single that scored Allie Hughes in the fifth inning. Hughes had reached on an SFSU error and advanced to second after a single from Myrissa Prince. Tracy drove a ball through the middle of the Gator defense giving MSUB the 2-1 lead. Prince later scored on a sacrifice fly from Bushell to make it 3-1 for the Yellowjackets.

After being held to just one hit over the first 5.1 innings, San Francisco collected its first extra-base hit of the game with a solo home run with one out in the sixth. The Gator rallied continued as a single was followed by a productive out advancing the runner to second. An RBI knock followed to knot the game 3-3 going to the bottom of the sixth.

Barham smacked a one-out double to give the ‘Jackets a prime opportunity to retake the lead in the sixth. Hughes singled to right field but sharp defense prevented Barham from making it home. After a strikeout, the Gator’s intentionally walked Tracy to load the bases with two outs and Dettling coming to the plate. MSUB’s slugger drove a ball to that found SFSU’s right fielder’s glove ending the inning.

It is the first time since 2012 that the Yellowjackets have defeated the Gators. MSUB is now 3-7 all-time against San Francisco State.

GAME 2: Stanislaus State 5, MSU Billings 4

Playing host Stanislaus State in their final game of the evening, the Yellowjackets failed to capitalize on late opportunities. After the Warriors grabbed a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth, MSUB collected two hits in each the sixth and seventh inning but couldn’t tie the game up.

Hughes led off the game with a single and Prince reached on an error to give the ‘Jackets runners on first and second with no outs to start the game. Tracy capitalized with an RBI single and Dettling drove in two more with a base hit of her own. After three outs, MSUB had collected three runs on three hits and held a 3-0 lead.

Maddy Lincoln (6-8, 3.89 ERA) took the circle with the three-run cushion but the Warrior offense quickly responded. The MSUB sophomore gave up one run on three hits as Stanislaus rallied with three consecutive singles after Lincoln had quickly retired the first two batters she faced.

The three-run lead was restored in the top of the second as Tracy notched another RBI-single. Barham started the inning with a walk and was replaced on a fielder’s choice by Hughes. Prince tallied a single and the pair of MSUB runners moved to second and third on a passed ball setting the stage for Tracy. A flyout ended the frame with the ‘Jackets ahead 4-1.

Stanislaus cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the third inning and took the lead with a three run bottom of the fourth making it 5-4 Warriors. Stanislaus peppered the ‘Jackets with hits collecting four knocks a piece in both the third and fourth inning.

The Yellowjacket bats came just short of tying the game in both the sixth and seventh inning. In the sixth, Emily Martinez and Barham reached on back-to-back singles and moved to second and third on a fielder’s choice but MSUB could not come up with the two-out RBI to match the Warriors.

Again in the seventh it was back-to-back hits that threatened the lead. A Bushell single in front of a Cassinelli double gave MSUB life with one out remaining in the game. Stanislaus closed the door with a groundout to seal the win.

With the loss MSUB falls to 4-6 against the Warriors all-time. Stanislaus has won the past two meeting with MSUB.

NEXT: Tomorrow the ‘Jackets will face No. 3 Chico State (27-3, 21-3 CCAA) at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time followed by No. 13 Sonoma State (19-8, 13-5 CCAA) at 7 p.m. Chico collected a 3-1 win over Chaminade on Friday while Sonoma dropped their Tournament of Champions opener 3-0 to Academy of Art. Turlock is expected to receive rain on Saturday morning which could alter the tournament Schedule.