(MSUB Athletics release)
LAS VEGAS – Scoring a combined 18 runs, the Montana State University Billings softball team swept a doubleheader against Hawai’i Pacific University 6-2 and 12-3 Monday afternoon at Majestic Park in non-conference action. The Yellowjackets (4-1) won two of three games in the Desert Stinger tournament over the weekend, then stayed in Las Vegas for a pair of games against the Sharks. Both teams will participate in the Dixie State Classic next weekend.
“I was proud of the way the team came to perform today,” commented MSUB head coach Jessica Rayman. “Our offense was strong and continues to step up in clutch situations with runners in scoring position. It has been fun to see our freshmen step up in big ways along with the rest of the team. We still need to work on cleaning up a few things defensively but with more live reps we get, I see the potential to keep growing and get better.”
Game 1 – MSU Billings 6, Hawai’i Pacific 2
After scoring five runs in the second inning, MSU Billings defeated Hawai’i Pacific University 6-2 in game one of a scheduled doubleheader Monday afternoon at Majestic Field. Georgiabelle Benning drove in a pair of runs with a triple to break open the game for MSUB and Alyssa Etheridge allowed two runs (one earned), two hits, walked four, and struck out two to earn the win in her second start.
Cailee Morgan and Sidney Pollard also made positive impacts in the game. Morgan was 2-for-3 with one run batted in, one walk, two stolen bases, and one run scored. Morgan finished 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI along with a run scored.
The ‘Jackets began the bottom of the second inning with a Brittanee Fisher walk. Pollard doubled down the left field line to score Fisher from second and Madison Kelly doubled on the next at bat to left center to give the Yellowjackets a 2-0 lead. With one out, Skylar Jenkins walked and two runs scored on Benning’s triple down the right field line. Morgan singled through the right side to drive in Benning bringing the inning total to five.
The Sharks responded with a pair of runs in the top of the third. With lead-off runners aboard, the Sharks stole bases and scored on a fielding error charged to Etheridge. A throwing error at home plate allowed another run to score, shaving down the MSUB lead to 6-2.
MSU Billings added an insurance run in the fourth. Morgan singled and stole second, then scored when Rylan Austin hit a single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.
Hawai’i Pacific attempted a rally in the seventh inning and brought the tying runner to the plate with the bases loaded, but Sierra Dias lined a pitch foul toward first base and it was snagged by Fisher to end the game.
Alyssa Etheridge (2-0) won her second game and completed the seven inning contest while allowing two runs (one earned), two hits, walked four, and struck out two. Jordan Curry (1-1) threw 4.0 innings and allowed six earned runs to take the loss.
Game 2 – MSU Billings 12, Hawai’i Pacific 3
The Yellowjackets scored 12 runs on 11 hits in game two of Monday’s doubleheader and collected their third straight win. Shayla Felix pushed across two RBI’s and went 2-for-3 with a double while Brittanee Fisher finished 2-for-2 with a pair of runs batted in. Pollard had a hot start at the plate and went 1-for-2 with two RBI’s in her first start. Cailee Morgan had one hit in game two and now leads the ‘Jackets with a .421 batting average in five games.
Pollard hit a two out single to get the Yellowjackets on the board in the first inning 2-0. In the second, Felix smacked a leadoff single and Benning bunted for a single before both runners advanced on a sacrifice by Morgan. Allie Hughes drove a single to centerfield to score Felix and Fisher followed with a double to deep centerfield to score both Benning and Hughes, making it 5-0.
Rylan Austin made it 6-0 in the third with an RBI single before Hawai’i Pacific struck back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Cieana Curran singled in a run and Brandi Leong walked with the bases full but Hawai’i Pacific left three stranded when MSUB starting pitcher Maddy Lincoln got Ashley Iseri to ground into a fielder’s choice at second base.
In the fourth, Felix scored Reynolds from second base on an RBI double to the left centerfield gap, bringing the score to 7-2. The ‘Jackets scored three runs in the sixth and two in the seventh to win 12-3.
Lincoln (2-0) got the win for MSUB on the mound and worked all seven innings, allowing three runs (all earned) on seven hits, walked three, and struck out four. Malia Torres (0-1) went seven inning and gave up nine earned runs on 11 hits, walked nine and struck out zero to take the loss.
The Yellowjackets (3-1) play their second tournament of the season February 7-9 hosted by Dixie State University. MSUB will face University of Hawai’i at Hilo, Fort Lewis College, Western New Mexico University, Dixie State, and Metropolitan State University of Denver at Canyons Softball Complex in St. George, Utah. The GNAC conference schedule begins on March 2 against Western Washington.
THE BUZZ: First baseman Brittanee Fisher was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the day for MSUB. Fisher had four runs batted in, four hits, and four runs scored in the doubleheader Monday…The Yellowjackets have the most non-conference wins of any team in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Western Oregon remains the only unbeaten conference team at 3-0…The Yellowjackets outscored HPU 26-5 in three games against the Sharks this weekend.