Softball sweeps SMSU Mustangs, prepare for NSIC road trip North

Despite the Southwest Minnesota State Mustangs coming into Wednesday’s double header seven games under .500 at 11-18 overall, they put up a fight against the No. 18 Minnesota State softball team. 

The two teams met for the first time this season at the Mavericks All-Sports Dome with MSU squeaking out two tight wins, 2-1 and 5-3. Young talent brought the Mavs home in both games, with freshman Cheyenne Behrends and sophomore Kylie Sullivan tallying important RBIs in both games. 

With the two wins, the Mavs improved to 24-8 overall while also improving their Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference record to 6-2. Standout senior pitcher Mackenzie Ward earned the start on the mound for the Mavericks in game one, collecting 10 strikeouts on just one earned run in 25 batters faced. The two teams were held in a heated pitching battle, where there were only 10 combined hits in the contest. 

Sullivan’s double in the first inning drove home the first run of the game, which was later nullified in the fourth inning after a single by SMSU’s Lileya Kebos helped Emily Tatur reach home. The Mavericks would respond quickly in the top of the fifth, which the Mustangs would never equalize. 

Game two started soon after, where MSU would get on the board first once again. A pickle on the base line between third base and home plate broke out before SMSU pitcher Karlie Miller made an eventual throwing error. The error paved the way for two Maverick runners to score, which gave MSU the first lead of the contest in the third inning. 

SMSU would respond with two runs of their own in the third, but the Mavs kept their distance for the remainder of the contest to take game two and a series sweep. MSU has a quick turnaround, where they are currently slated to face Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State this Saturday and Sunday respectively. The Mavericks will be traveling to opposing fields for both contests. 

Duluth has had a successful season so far, holding a 20-9 overall record and 5-3 record in NSIC play. The Bulldogs are led by sophomore catcher Kelly Swank, who bats a .358 batting average to go along with 11 RBIs. On the mound senior Sam Pederson and sophomore Lauren Dixon lead the charge, combining for a 15-6 record.

The Mavericks then travel to St. Cloud for a double header against the Huskies, who are 18-9 overall with a 6-0 record in NSIC action. Senior Sydney Trees is a leader at the plate for the Huskies, who averages a .303 batting average. Trees is one of the best at knocking the ball into home run territory, with a staggering 10 home runs in 89 at bats. SCSU’s pitching crew is led by junior Trinity Junker, who has allowed a minimal 1.14 ERA in 92.1 innings pitched.

Header Photo: Freshman infielder Cheyenne Behrends has been solid at the plate in her first season, averaging a .303 batting average and totaling 11 RBIs. (Maddie Behrens/The Reporter)

Write to Kole Buelow at kole.buelow@mnsu.edu.

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