GREAT BEND— The McPherson College softball team remained alive at the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Tournament with a 12-4 win over Bethel College in an elimination game Friday night at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
The Bulldogs (27-23) had dropped into the back draw after a close 3-2 loss to Ottawa University in their tournament opener Friday afternoon.
Ottawa 3, McPherson 2
McPherson out-hit Ottawa, 6-4, but the Braves got a pinch-hit RBI double from Sydney Lehr to break a 2-2 tie and retired the Bulldogs in order in the seventh for the win.
Both teams had a baserunner in each of the first two innings but could not push a run across.
McPherson finally broke through in the third, stringing together four straight two-out hits from the top four spots in the lineup to take a 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Maile Deutsch and Jenna Christensen.
Ottawa drew even in the bottom half of the frame, taking advantage of three Christie Betker walks to plate a pair. Tomi-Lyn Hickman scored on a one-out RBI single by Ellena Cott-Laurie to get the Braves on the board. The next batter, Aryn Smith, drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in the second run of the inning. The Bulldogs avoided any further damage by getting the force out at home on a fielder's choice before Taylor Hires-Caulk hauled in a pop fly for the final out of the inning.
Betker retired the Braves in order in the fourth and fifth innings, but gave up a leadoff double to Smith to open the inning. Smith later stole third before coming in on Lehr's RBI double.
McPherson got a one-out single from Erica Almaraz in the fourth but was unable to produce another baserunner against Ottawa starter Rebekah Clinton.
Clinton snagged the win in the circle, allowing just two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Betker took the loss, giving up three runs on just four hits while striking out four, but her effort was hampered by five walks.
Jessica Jones had two of McPherson's six hits, while Deutsch and Christensen had a hit and RBI.
No Brave had multiple hits but Peyton Matejka drew a pair of walks. Cott-Laurie and Smith added RBI base hits.
McPherson 12, Bethel 4
Needing a win to extend their season, McPherson came out swinging against Bethel. The Bulldogs racked up 12 runs on 14 hits while capitalizing on five Thresher errors.
McPherson stranded a total of five runners in the first two innings alone but could only manage one run, grabbing the lead on a Chelsea Conrad RBI single in the second.
The Bulldogs added to their lead in the third as Kylecia Taylor hit a two-run single to center, then came around to score as Destiny Bacon raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run on a ball hit to left field.
After a scoreless fourth, McPherson doubled the lead with three runs in the fifth. Bacon hit a two-run triple to score Deutsch and Christensen, then scored herself on an RBI single by Taylor Perez.
The Threshers got on the board with three runs in the bottom half of the inning behind three hits and a pair of McPherson errors. Alyssa Sullivan hit an RBI triple, then scored on a Michelle Schrag RBI single to left. Schrag scored one batter later on a Madison McDowell RBI single.
McPherson added three runs in each of the next two innings to take a 12-3 lead. In the sixth, pinch-runner Jasmine Curiel scored on a Bacon RBI groundout while the other two runs were aided directly by Thresher miscues in the field. Hires-Caulk led off the Bulldog seventh with a triple to right-center, then scored on an Ellis Woodruff RBI groundout. Conrad then reached on an error before Deutsch and Christensen rapped back-to-back RBI doubles.
Bethel scratched out a run in the bottom of the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Sullivan and Schrag but could get no closer.
Betker came back and pitched another complete game in the game two, striking out five while allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks.
Raegan Beckley took the loss, allowing three runs on nine hits over the first 4 1/3 innings.
After a pair of hits in the opener, Jones was held off the base paths by the Threshers. Deutsch, Christensen and Bacon more than made up for it, however, as each had three hits. Bacon drove in three runs, while Deutsch and Christensen drove in one apiece. Hires-Caulk added two hits and scored a run.
Sullivan and Schrag each had two hits to lead Bethel with Schrag driving in two.
Between games, McPherson's all-KCAC honorees were recognized. Also recognized was Almaraz, who was named the McPherson College softball team's Champion of Character for 2018.
With the win over the Threshers, McPherson set a new program record for victories in a season (27). The Bulldogs will face fourth-seeded Friends University in another elimination game at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon.