The Minnesota State University, Mankato softball team competed in their final non-conference tournament of the year at the Fairfield Classic in Pittsburg, Kansas and Joplin, Missouri. Due to inclement weather in St. Joseph, Missouri, the Mavericks were forced with a complete schedule change to their tournament. MSU came into the tournament with a 13-4 overall record.
The Mavs opened their tournament on Saturday with a game against the Gorillas of Pittsburg State. Sophomore utility Madi Newman opened the scoring in the first for MSU with a two-run home run, giving them a 2-0 lead.
The Gorillas responded quickly, tallying three runs in the bottom of the first to take a 3-2 lead. Sophomore outfielder Kylie Sullivan would answer back for the Mavericks as she went the distance for a solo home run in the second inning that tied the game at 3-3.
Pittsburg State reclaimed their lead hitting back-to-back home runs to grab a 6-3 lead in the second inning. Both teams would claim three more runs throughout the rest of the game as the Gorillas beat the Mavericks 9-6.
Minnesota State had a quick turnaround taking on the Central Oklahoma Bronchos a few hours later. Saturday’s game between the Mavericks and Bronchos opened with three home runs in the first two innings and saw the Mavs take a commanding 5-1 lead.
Oklahoma was able to silence the MSU bats and slowly erase the 5-1 deficit across four innings, tying the game at 5-5 in the seventh inning. Sophomore infielder Ellie Tallman was able to quiet the Bronchos as she hit a walk-off RBI single in the eighth to give the Mavs win no. 14 on the season.
Minnesota State and Central Oklahoma returned to action the next day in an early-morning rematch. Freshman infielder Cheyenne Behrends opened the scoring in the fifth inning for the Mavs with a solo home run.
Sophomore outfielder Haley Forret and Tallman both added RBIs in the seventh inning as the Mavericks shut out the Bronchos 3-0. Senior pitcher Mackenzie Ward remained hot, allowing only two hits on 22 at-bats.
Minnesota State took on Pittsburg State shortly after looking to flip the script from game one. Both offenses were nearly silent through the first two innings, putting up only four hits.
The Gorillas were the first to get on the board in the third inning as they erupted for five runs. Their five-run third inning was highlighted by junior catcher Madison Syzmanski’s fourth home run of the season.
Minnesota State would tally two runs the rest of the game as they fell to Pittsburg State 5-2. MSU would then travel to Joplin for their matchups the next day against Missouri Southern.
Sophomore catcher Sydney Neilsen opened the scoring for the Mavericks with a solo home run in the first inning. Sophomore infielder Sydney Nelson would add to MSU’s lead in the second inning with a sacrifice fly RBI to right field.
Mankato would continue to add to their lead in the third frame as Neilsen went the distance with her second home run of the game. The Mavericks would add three more runs the remainder of the game and shut out the Lions 7-0. Ward moved onto 11-2 on the season as she allowed one hit and tallied seven strikeouts through 17 batters faced.
Minnesota State’s second game of the day against Missouri Southern was canceled due to inclement weather. The Mavericks will be back in action Mar. 24 as they take on Southwest Minnesota State in their first NSIC games this season at the Maverick All-Sports Dome at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Header Photo: Senior pitcher Mackenzie Ward collected her 11th win of the season as she allowed one hit and tallied seven strikeouts through 17 batters faced. Ward’s record is 11-2 on the season, which leads the team. The senior pitcher has allowed a minuscule 0.74 ERA and .164 batting average to opposing hitters. (Maverick Athletics)
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