(MSU Billings release)
PORTLAND, Ore. – Recent struggles continued for the Montana State University Yellowjackets softball team Saturday as they dropped both games of a doubleheader against Concordia University at Porter Park in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference series. The ‘Jackets scored just a pair of runs in the seventh inning of game one and lost 6-2. In game two, MSUB found a 2-0 lead but had their hopes dashed when Concordia walked-off in the seventh on a failed fielder’s choice throw in which Concordia narrowly made it to third base in time.
“We fought hard in the second game,” said head coach Jessica Rayman. “Maddy Lincoln threw a good game for us and we were able to put some runs together but it just wasn’t enough.”
An annual victim of harsh Montana winters, the Yellowjackets have had to play each of their first 30 games away from home and hold a 9-21 overall record, 2-10 in the GNAC. The ‘Jackets are now 3-7 over their last 10 games and have lost three in a row. The series against the Cavaliers concludes Sunday with a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m.
Game 1 – MSU Billings 2, Concordia 6
Sally Bowles pitched six innings and allowed zero earned runs as the Yellowjackets fell to Concordia University 6-2 in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader at Porter Park. Bowles allowed two unearned runs in the seventh, but the rally was too little, too late for MSUB, who managed just four hits in the contest.
The Cavaliers scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning off Alyssa Etheridge. After putting runners on the corners, Hannah Self singled up the middle to score two. Self advanced to third base on a throwing error and executed a double-steal with runners on the corners and came across home plate for a 3-0 Concordia lead.
Concordia added an insurance run in the fourth and two more in the fifth while Bowles continued to hold the Yellowjackets off the scoreboard.
MSUB finally broke the offensive dorought in the top of the seventh inning. Allie Hughes led off with a single and Payton Reynolds and Madison Kelly were both hit by pitches on subsequent at bats. Morgan Quimby advanced the runners on a fielder’s choice throwing error to make it 6-1.Then Hailey Gregerson hit into a fielder’s choice batting for Brittanee Fisher to score Reynolds from third. Cailee Morgan grounded out to the pitcher to end the rally and the game.
Alyssa Etheridge (4-7) took the loss for MSUB after throwing 6.0 innings and allowing six runs (four earned) on six hits, walked two and struck out two. Bowles struck out one through six innings and Kayla Lagerquist recorded three outs in the seventh for Concordia.
Paitlyn Willoughby had a two hit game and a stolen base to help the Cavaliers and Self finished 1-for-3 with two runs batted in, two runs scored, and one stolen base. Allie Hughes was the only Yellowjacket player to record a multi-hit game and went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Morgan Quimby and Jolene House were the only other players to record hits with House picking up her first double of the season. In the field, the Yellowjackets committed two errors versus one for the Cavaliers.
Game 2 – MSU Billings 2, Concordia 3
MSUB scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings of game two but Concordia chipped their way back to a 2-2 score before closing out the game on a walk-off fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Maddy Lincoln (4-11) gave the Yellowjackets a chance to win by holding Concordia to three earned runs and seven hits over 6.1 innings. Lincoln also struck out a season high seven and walked three.
Mckenzie Smith (10-6) worked a complete game to pick up her 10th win in the circle this season. The senior held MSUB hitters to two runs (one earned) on six hits, walked one, and struck out two.
Smith and Macy Besuyen recorded two hits apiece at the top of the order for Concordia and each of them scored a run in the game. Karley Yoshioka also had two runs batted in.
Madison Kelly gave MSUB a 1-0 lead in the fourth after hitting a single to second base which scored Reynolds from third. Brittanee Fisher led off the top of the fifth with a home run to center field to make it 2-0, her third long ball of the season.
Lincoln began the fifth with a pair of strikeouts but then the Cavaliers rallied. Besuyen reached on a single after skillfully laying down a bunt between the pitching rubber and home plate. Smith then doubled down the right field line to score Besuyen. Yoshioka followed with a single to right field and Smith came in to tie the game 2-2.
MSU Billings wasted a leadoff single by Sidney Pollard in the top of the seventh after Fisher, House, and Rylan Austin went down in order. Chelsea Sligh began the Cavs seventh with a single through the left side of the infield. Lincoln struck out Tori O’Neill but Besuyen doubled to left center to get runners on the corners. Smith drew a walk to load the bases with one out and Yoshioka reached on a fielder’s choice to third base and all the base runners were deemed safe on the play.
Concordia finished with one fielding error while MSUB did not commit an official error. The Yellowjackets left six runners on base. Concordia stranded five.
“Tomorrow is a new day and we need to show some fight for every pitch and focus on winning each inning,” Rayman said.
THE BUZZ: Sidney Pollard was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the day for the Yellowjackets. Pollard went 2-for-3 in game two and had a run batted in game one. Pollard also assisted on four plays at shortstop…The Yellowjackets are still winless in the all-time series against the Cavaliers with an 0-8 overall record. The teams first met in 2015.
UP NEXT: The Yellowjackets (9-21, 2-10 GNAC) play a second doubleheader against Concordia University Sunday at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. MSUB remains in Portland Monday to play a makeup doubleheader against Western Oregon beginning at 9 a.m. Next weekend, the Yellowjackets host Central Washington in four games for the home opening series.