Softball squeaks past Concordia- St. Paul, eyes No. 7 Augustana

Following two hard-fought games, the Minnesota State University, Mankato softball team swept Concordia-St.Paul this past Tuesday in a mid-day double-header to improve to a 20-6 overall record on the season and 2-0 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) play. 

The Mavericks had momentum heading into the series after defeating Southwest Minnesota State in both games of last week’s double-header. The Mavs outscored the Mustangs 19-4 in two games including putting the run rule into effect in game one. 

After a scoreless first inning in game one of the double-header, senior infielder Hailey Forshee tallied her 13th RBI of the season on a sacrifice fly to left-field that would drive home freshman infielder Cheyenne Behrends for the 1-0 MSU lead. Senior pitcher Mackenzie Ward was nearly flawless through the first four innings, striking out 11 of her 12 batters faced. 

In the bottom of the fifth, sophomore utility Madi Newman recorded a sacrifice bunt that brought sophomore Sydney Nelson across the plate extending the MSU lead to 2-0. The next play, sophomore Courtney Baxter stole home, giving the Mavericks a 3-0 lead.

Moments later, MSU added to their lead as sophomore outfielder Kylie Sullivan recorded her 13th RBI of the season, bringing the Minnesota State lead to 4-0. Ward would allow just two more hits the remaining two innings, as MSU went on to win by a 4-0 final. 

The Mavericks and Golden Bears returned to the field at 12:35 p.m. for game two of the double-header. Both teams were able to get runners on base in the first inning, but to no avail, as the game remained scoreless heading into the second. 

MSU Sophomore Katie Bracken came into the game at the top of the fifth to pitch in relief of sophomore McKayla Armbruster, who allowed two hits with six strikeouts on 17 batters faced. The close game remained deadlocked at zeros through six innings as neither team was able to bring home runners they had on base. 

In the top of the seventh, the Mavericks allowed zero hits and gave themselves a chance to get a walk-off and end the game. Senior infielder Torey Richards was the first to hit for the Mavs in the bottom of the seventh, and provided an important single to left-center to get a runner on base. 

Minnesota State opted to have sophomore pitcher Kacy Nickerson pinch-run for Richards, and with a runner on first, Behrends hit a sacrifice bunt that moved Nickerson to second base.

With no outs on the board, sophomore Ellie Tallman called game with an RBI single up the middle that brought Nickerson across home plate, helping MSU prevail 1-0. 

The Mavericks will be back in action Apr. 2 taking on Augustana in an afternoon double-header. Start times for these games are 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m in the Maverick All-Sports Dome.

Augustana comes into this weekend’s games with an 18-5 overall record while being 2-0 in NSIC play. The Vikings are coached by Gretta Melsted, who is in her 15th season with the program and sports a 593-232 overall record. 

Leading Augustana in hitting this season is junior catcher and outfielder Gracey Brink. The Rapid City, S.D. native owns a convincing .457 batting average this season with 13 runs and 21 hits. 

The Vikings’ pitching crew is led by graduate-student Ashley Mickschl. Mickschl boasts a 7-1 record and a 1.02 earned run average.

The Mavericks will finish off the weekend with a double-header against Wayne State on Apr. 3. Start times are set for 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in the Maverick All-Sports Dome. 

Wayne State comes into the games with a 3-20 overall record and 0-2 record in the NSIC. The Wildcats are coached by Shelli Manson, who is in her eighth season with the team and owns a 120-191 overall record. 

Wayne State’s bats are led by senior outfielder Kortney Buresh, who has a .384 batting average and 10 runs on 28 hits this season. On the mound, sophomore Callie Carraher leads the Wildcats with a 4.40 earned run average and has 20 runs off 22 hits this season.

Header Photo: Sophomore outfielder Kylie Sullivan leads the Mavericks’ bats with a batting average of .373 while batting in 13 RBIs in 75 at bats. (Maddie Behrens/The Reporter)

Write to Karson Buelow at karson.buelow@mnsu.edu.

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