LINDSBORG---Jenna Christensen hit a pair of three-run home runs as the McPherson College softball team got back to the .500 mark in Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) play with a doubleheader sweep at Bethany College Tuesday afternoon. The Bulldogs (20-16, 5-5 KCAC) won game one, 11-1, in five innings, then took game two by a 9-3 score.
Game 1 --- McPherson 11, Bethany 1 (5 innings)
McPherson ace Christie Betker was dialed in during game one, allowing just one run and striking out nine while scattering four hits and a pair of walks in five innings.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first when Christensen hit a three-run home run to left, scoring Chelsea Conrad and Maile Deutsch. Conrad and Deutsch had reached on back-to-back one-out singles.
The Swedes put runners on second and third in the bottom half of the inning, but could not push a run across.
Both teams tallied a run in the third inning. Jessica Jones led off the top half of the frame with an infield single, then moved around to third on a stolen base and a wild pitch before scoring on an RBI single up the middle by Conrad. Bethany countered with an Emma Wager solo home run in the bottom of the third.
McPherson capitalized on four hits and four Swede errors to score four runs in the top of the fourth. Conrad drove in two on a single down the left-field line, then scored on an Ali Smith single through the left side. Deutsch came around on the same play as Smith's hit was mishandled in the outfield.
Betker worked around a single and a double to lead of the fourth, getting out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts before retiring pinch-runner Kelli DeCrow at plate on a fielder's choice to get out of the inning.
Conrad drove in two more runs with a double down the left-field line, then came across on a Deutsch RBI single.
The Bulldogs retired the side in the fifth with Betker getting a strikeout to end the game.
Conrad finished with four hits, drove in five and scored three runs to lead McPherson. Christensen had three hits and three RBIs, while Deutsch also had three hits.
Jones added two hits, a stolen base and three runs scored. Smith's fourth-inning single accounted for the final Bulldog hit.
With her nine strikeouts, Betker increased her season total to 160, matching her single-season school mark from a year ago.
Game 2 --- McPherson 9, Bethany 3
Just like in game one, McPherson plated three runs in the top of the first on a Christensen home run.
The Bulldogs added a run in the second and three more in the third while conceding single runs to the Swedes in the first and third innings.
McPherson's big hit in the third came on a two-run single up the middle by Taylor Hires-Caulk.
Kylecia Taylor hit an RBI single in the fourth and Erica Almaraz scored on a Deutsch sacrifice fly in the fifth to extend the Bulldogs' lead to 9-2 after five innings.
Alexis Martinez homered to center in the sixth. That would be all for the Swedes, though, who left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
Katy Wilson picked up the win in the circle for McPherson, allowing three runs on 11 hits and a pair of walks.
Jones had three hits from the leadoff spot in the Bulldog batting order. Christensen had two hits, three RBIs and two runs scored while also drawing a walk. Taylor was the final McPherson with multiple hits.
Emma Wager had three hits and scored twice to pace the Swedes. Martinez and Elizabeth Endsley had two hits apiece.
The Bulldogs return to the field Thursday evening with another KCAC doubleheader at Sterling. First pitch from the Sterling High School softball diamond is slated for 5 p.m.