The McPherson College softball team split a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader with 20th-ranked Ottawa University Wednesday at Bulldog Park.
The Bulldogs took game one, 8-2, behind 13 hits and a commanding pitching performance by Christie Betker. The Braves (22-8, 5-1 KCAC) held on for a 3-2 win in the nightcap.
"We definitely played well all-around today," said head coach Ashley Hickman. "Whether it was hitting, defense or pitching, we excelled. In game one, we were able to attack and get on the board, and then kept attacking. That's been our goal in every single game, and, when we able execute, it gave us a ton of confidence to keep us going throughout the whole game."
Game 1 — McPherson 8, No. 20 Ottawa 2
McPherson broke through with three runs in the third inning as Kylecia Taylor scored on a Chelsea Conrad sacrifice fly, while Maile Deutsch drove in Jessica Jones with an RBI double to deep right-center, then scored on a Jenna Christensen RBI single.
Ottawa responded with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Kenzie Stevens bunted for a base hit to lead off the inning then came around when Aryn Smith sent a Betker offering over the left-field fence for a two-run home run.
The Bulldogs provided a response with a two-out rally in the bottom half of the inning. Destiny Bacon opened the frame with a single to center, then scored three batters later on an RBI single by Taylor Perez. Perez moved to second on a Jones single to left, then scored on a Conrad RBI single to center.
McPherson pushed the lead to 8-2 with three runs in the fifth inning. Batting with the bases loaded, Taylor rapped a two-run double to deep left-center. Perez followed with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Bacon from third. The Bulldogs had the opportunity to end the game via run rule, but stranded runners at second and third.
The Braves were retired in order and Betker worked around a two-out single in the seventh to close out the game.
Betker picked up the complete-game victory in the circle, scattering a pair of hits and a walk while striking out eight.
Conrad, Taylor and Perez each had two hits and two RBIs, while Bacon added two hits and two runs scored.
Rebekah Clinton took the loss after allowing seven runs on 10 hits while pitching into the fifth inning.
Singles by Stevens and Jordyn Sarnecki accounted for Ottawa's other hits in addition to Smith's home run.
Game 2 — No. 20 Ottawa 3, McPherson 2
The Bulldogs posted nine hits in game two but could not capitalize on four Ottawa errors and ended up stranding 10 runners.
"When you leave runners on, that's always a missed opportunity," remarked Hickman. "We hit well in game two but weren't able to place our hits as well as we might have wanted to."
The Braves led off the game with a pair of bunt singles, then grabbed the early lead on an RBI single by Aryn Smith.
McPherson nearly tied the game in their initial set of at-bats, putting runners on second and third with just one out but could not push a run across.
Ottawa doubled the lead in the second inning as Tomi-Lyn Hickman rapped a triple to left-center then scored on an RBI single through the left side by Kori Lacey.
The Bulldogs responded with runs in the second and third to tie the game. Taylor scored on an error in the second. Christensen came across in the third on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Hires-Caulk.
The Braves moved ahead with a run in the fifth when Peyton Matejka scored on a Sarnecki RBI single.
After both schools stranded a pair of runners in the sixth, Ottawa came close to extending its lead in the seventh but pinch-runner Izzy Thorp was thrown out at home by Bacon on an Alexa Romero double to center.
McPherson had one final opportunity in the bottom of the seventh as Ali Smith reached on an infield single with one out. The rally was cut short, though, as Bacon lined out to shortstop and Smith was doubled off first to end the game.
Betker pitched another complete game for the Bulldogs, taking the loss after allowing three runs on 13 hits and walking three. She struck out two.
"Christie came out today guns-a-blazin," Hickman added. "She tried to used everything she had in her back pocket. So, I'm really proud of the way she handled herself and she was able to fight through some adversity. In game two, she worked herself into some extended counts but was able to get outs. That goes along way with her teammates."
Smith and Perez had two hits apiece to pace McPherson.
Amber Flummerfelt took the win, allowing two unearned runs while scattering nine hits and walking one.Lacy had three hits, drove in one and stole a base to lead Ottawa.
Sarnecki and Hickman added two hits apiece, while Lacey, Smith and Sarnecki accounted for the Braves' RBIs.
Three times in the doubleheader, Bulldog slappers were called out for making contact with the ball outside of the batter's box. "We've worked on that a lot this year," noted Hickman. "And it's always a buzzkill when you make good contact but get called out for being out of the box."
McPherson makes the short trip across town Thursday afternoon to face Central Christian College in the final nonconference doubleheader of the season. First pitch for game one is slated for 2 p.m. at the Central Christian softball diamond.
"We definitely like to be able to play one or two nonconference doubleheaders in the midst of our league slate, as it gives us an opportunity to work on some things," Hickman said. "It also helps keep us grounded, preventing us from getting lackadaisical."
The Bulldogs then travel to Winfield, Kansas, on Saturday afternoon to face Southwestern College in another KCAC doubleheader.