Softball sweeps Upper Iowa ahead of Crookston, Bemidji

The Minnesota State University, Mankato softball team claimed two wins over Upper Iowa on Tuesday, winning 8-1 and squeaking out a 12-11 win in an extra inning to sweep the Peacocks in a doubleheader. 

The first game was more of a blowout, with the Mavericks claiming the first and last runs of the contest. Sophomore outfielder Kylie Sullivan helped the Mavs get on the board in just the first inning, driving home sophomore Madi Newman.

Senior shortstop Torey Richards helped add on another run in a 3-2 count, singling a ball up the middle which eventually scored freshman Cheyenne Behrends on an error. In the batter’s box, Behrends proved to be the MVP of the contest, as she would go on to hit all three of her attempts. 

Behrends solo-homered in the third, while also hitting two singles in the fourth and sixth inning to send home four total RBIs in the game. 

Senior Mackenzie Ward got the start on the mound, improving her dominant 2022 season record to 18-3. Ward pitched six innings, allowing five hits while striking out nine batters in 22 faced. 

Upper Iowa’s lone run came in the third, where Sophomore Sara Jessie singled the ball up the middle to score sophomore outfielder Hannah Bridgewater.

The two teams then returned at 2:25 p.m. for the second game of the doubleheader, where the Mavericks squeaked out a close win to improve to 28-10 overall and 10-4 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. 

The Mavs scored first, gaining seven runs in the first inning alone. Richards helped send home the first two runs, hitting the ball for a double towards left field which sent home Behrends and sophomore Ellie Tallman. 

An RBI walk and two more hits would add five more runs before Upper Iowa closed out the inning. The Peacocks responded in the bottom of the first with a run of their own, as a single to left center scored Jessie to make the game 7-1. 

A quiet second and third inning led the way for the Mavericks to tally more runs in the fourth, where they added a sacrifice fly to add the first one. A fielder’s choice helped another run come in, and the Mavs tallied another to wrap up a three-run fourth inning. 

The Peacocks exploded for nine runs in the fifth and sixth innings, with everything getting started on a single down the left field line by Jessie to send home Bridgewater. The bulk of Upper Iowa’s runs were scored on singles, but a three-run homer to left field by graduate student Katie Crogan helped tie the game at 11 in the bottom of the sixth. 

The Mavericks decided to send in Ward to close out the sixth before the Peacocks could score more runs, which successfully ended the inning. A scoreless seventh led way for Behrends to add onto her impressive series, as she homered herself home on the first at-bat of the inning to give the Mavs a 12-11 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. 

Ward would close out the inning with three straight outs on five pitches to earn her 19th win of the year. 

Minnesota State returns home this weekend to the Maverick All-Sports Dome to face Minnesota Crookston and Bemidji State in two doubleheaders. The Mavericks will face Crookston on Friday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Bemidji at the same times on Saturday.

Both Crookston and Bemidji have struggled to find wins this season, both collecting a total of 25 losses up to this point in the season. The Golden Eagles come in with the better of two records at 12-25 overall while having a 3-9 record in the NSIC. 

Despite the better record, Crookston is on an eight game losing streak and will face a Mankato team who has won six of their last eight and are 10-3 at home this season. The same is true for the Beavers, who are also on an eight game losing streak, but have a chance at snapping the streak against Concordia-St.Paul on Friday before traveling South. 

For the Mavericks, they have a chance at gaining four more wins on the season, and extending their case for a higher spot in the national rankings which they currently sit at No. 20.

Header Photo: The Mavericks converge at the mound prior to switching pitchers in a game against Lewis University. (Maddie Behrens/The Reporter)

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

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