Softball splits games with No. 7 Augustana, Wayne State

After a convincing double-header sweep last Tuesday against Concordia St. Paul, the Minnesota State University, Mankato softball team returned home this past weekend for double-headers against No. 7 Augustana and Wayne State. The Mavericks dropped game one against the Vikings on Saturday 3-5 before taking game two by a 4-1 final. The Mavs then took game one against the Wildcats Sunday 8-0 before falling 1-2 in game two. 

Senior Mackenzie Ward got the start on the mound in game one against Augustana. The Clive, Iowa native was handed just her third loss of the season, letting up five runs on four hits. 

Mavericks head coach Lori Meyer spoke briefly about Ward’s struggles in game one. “I don’t think Mackenzie Ward threw well right away, because [I can’t remember] the last time I’ve seen her give up five walks in three innings,” Meyer said.

Sophomore infielder Sydney Nelson got the Mavericks on the board first in the second inning with a two-run homerun to center field. The Vikings would respond in a big way in the third and fifth innings as they scored five runs including home runs from senior outfielder Mary Pardo and senior infielder Delaney Young. 

The Mavericks would add one more run in the fifth thanks to sophomore outfielder Kylie Sullivan, but it was too little too late as they fell to the Vikings 3-5 in game one. The two teams returned to the field at 5:05 for game two of the double-header.

Sophomore McKayla Armbruster started on the mound for the Mavs in game two and picked up her second win of the season. Armbruster allowed only one run and four hits in five innings pitched on 23 batters faced.

Sophomore catcher Sydney Nielsen got things rolling for MSU in the third inning with an RBI single to left field. Augustana would respond with a run of their own in the top of the fourth that tied the game at one a piece. 

Sophomore infielder and outfielder Ellie Tallman would regain the lead for the Mavericks in the bottom of the fourth, scoring off a wild pitch. Nielsen would add to the MSU lead in the fifth with an RBI double that drove home Sullivan. 

Minnesota State would add one more run in the sixth inning, defeating Augustana 4-1 in game two of the double header. 

Meyer spoke about her team’s rebounding performance in game two after a tough loss in game one. “We stayed really on beat with them,” Meyer said. “I told them we were right there, we just had to clean a couple of things up.”

Minnesota State would have the night to regroup before returning to the dome for Wayne State the next day.

Ward returned to the mound for game one against the Wildcats and picked up her 14th win of the season. The Mavericks’ pitcher allowed only one hit on 14 batters faced while tallying six strikeouts. 

Sophomore utility Madi Newman opened the game with a homerun to center field giving the Mavs a 1-0 lead. The Mavericks’ bats remained hot in the first inning as they scored five more runs, bringing the lead to 6-0. 

In the bottom of the second, Sullivan would bring the lead to 7-0 as she scored off a ground-out by senior infielder Torey Richards. Nelson would add one more run in the fourth as the Mavs went on to win 8-0 in five innings.

Armbruster got the start in the Mavericks’ game-two loss against Wayne State. The Faribault, Minn. native let up two runs off of three hits in four innings pitched.

After a scoreless first two innings, Wayne State was the first to get on the board as junior outfielder Riley Holmberg tallied an RBI single to center field. Senior infielder Kim Vidlak added an RBI single to right field bringing the Wildcat lead to 2-0.

In the bottom of the third, the Mavericks would cut the lead to 2-1 when Newman scored on a ground-out by Sullivan. The rest of the game remained scoreless as the Mavs fell to the Wildcats 1-2. 

Minnesota State will return to action this Wednesday taking on Southwest Minnesota State in a midday doubleheader. The Mavericks swept the Mustangs earlier this season in a double-header on Mar. 24. 

Senior utility Bailey Johnson leads the Mustangs this season with a .400 batting average. The Mount Pleasant, Iowa native owns 14 runs on the season and 36 hits. 

On the mound, junior Shelby Bloemendaal leads SMSU with a 5.33 earned run average. The Pipestone, Minn. native owns a 6-5 overall record and has let up 83 hits in 64.1 innings pitched.

MSU and SMSU will take part in a double-header Apr. 6 at the Maverick All Sports Dome. Start times for these games are 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. respectively.

Header Photo: In the Mavericks’ 4-1 over No. 7 Augustana on Saturday, sophomore catcher Sydney Nielsen recorded two RBIs in three at-bats to help propel the Mavs to their first win over a ranked team this season. (Maddie Behrens/The Reporter)

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

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