SALINA—The McPherson College softball team picked up two more key wins on Thursday evening, to stay even atop the KCAC standings with Avila University. The Bulldogs went on the road to Salina and swept the Kansas Wesleyan University Coyotes in their home park. They took the opening game 4-1, and then completed the sweep by winning game two 6-5 in extra innings.
Christie Betker picked up both wins in the circle for the Bulldogs, pitching a complete game in each outing. In the opener, she gave up just one unearned run, on five hits, with six strikeouts and two walks. In the finale she pitched another eight innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with a pair strikeouts and a pair of walks.
The offense in game one, pushed across four runs on 12 hits, led by Jenna Christensen, who was 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored and one RBI. Joining her in the multi-hit club were Maile Deutsch and Chelsea Conrad, who were both 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI, and Ali Smith (Jr. Lodi, Calif.) who was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
In the second game, the offense got going a little late, but they eventually were able to score six runs on eight hits. Smith again recorded multiple hits, this time going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, and she was joined by Kylecia Taylor who was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. The other big hit for the Bulldogs was a two out double by Payten Davies that drove in the winning run.
In game one, the Bulldogs jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, with a run in the first inning, and then two more in the top of the third. The Coyotes got their only run in the bottom of the third, trimming the Bulldog lead to 3-1. In the top of the sixth, Mac got an insurance run on an RBI single by Christensen that scored Conrad from third. That was enough for Betker, who set down the next six Coyote hitters in order to close out the game.
The night cap was much more dramatic, that included a couple of questionable judgment calls by the officiating crew. The game was scoreless through the 4.5 innings, but in the bottom of the fifth, the Coyotes scored three after a ball that appeared to be touched in foul territory by Smith in right field was called fair by the home plate ump. That extended the inning, and the Coyotes took advantage and opened up a 3-0 lead. Half an inning later, the Bulldog offense got things going. They scored two runs in the inning, and had two runners thrown out at home plate on great throws by the Coyote defense.
Trailing by a run in the top of the seventh, the Bulldogs rallied again. Davies struck out swinging, but Taylor Perez reached base on an error by the Coyotes' third baseman. Conrad then grounded out to the pitcher, but Perez advanced into scoring position on the play. Jessica Jones, representing the go ahead run, reached base on a walk to put runners at first and second with two outs. Next up for the Bulldogs was Taylor. On a 3-2 count, she barreled up a ball and sent a line drive over the head of the Coyotes center fielder, clearing the bases and giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 4-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, things got more interesting. Betker walked the leadoff hitter, and then she reached second on a sacrifice bunt by the next Coyote batter. Another walk, gave the home team first and second with one out. Both runners advanced on a passed ball in the next at bat, eliminating a force play at any bag and putting the winning run just 120 feet away. Betker got the next batter to pop out to Molly Booker putting the Bulldogs just one out away from the win. Betker got the ground ball she was looking for in the next at bat. Booker fielded it, and fired over to Deutsch at first base. The throw was just off the bag, and after originally being call an out to end the game, the umpires reversed their decision saying Deutsch didn't keep her foot on the bag. Meanwhile the runner on third scored to tie the game at four forcing extra innings.
Things started on a positive note for the Mac ladies in the top of the eighth. The international tiebreaker was in effect so the Bulldogs automatically had a runner placed on second base. Deutsch hit a single, moving the go ahead run to third. Booker hit a dribbler out in front of the plate and was thrown out at first, but Erica Almaraz, the runner at third was unable to score. With runners on second and third, Smith popped out to the shortstop and both runners stayed put. Next up was Davies, who was on another 3-2 count, found a ball she liked and squared up a ball, hitting it over the left fielders' head and scoring both runs that gave the Bulldogs a 6-4 lead.
More drama in the Coyotes' final at bat. The Coyotes placed a runner on second base, but the Bulldogs were able to get two quick outs, leaving that runner stranded where she started the inning. A single through the hole at shortstop by the next Coyote hitter advanced the runner to third. With two outs, Betker again got the ground ball she needed, this time to Taylor at third base. She rushed the throw a little bit, short arming it and Deutsch was unable to come up with it cleanly. The runner on third scored, and the Coyotes had the tying run at second and the winning run on first. The field was buzzing with tension, but on a 1-1 count, Betker got the final hitter to pop the ball up behind home plate and Christensen caught it to end the game.
A relieved Bulldogs Head Coach Tony Segovia lauded his players saying, "Unbelievably super proud of these ladies tonight. To fall behind late in game two and find the energy to come back and go extra innings to win two games on the road is simply amazing. We had a couple of bad breaks not go out way and we continued to fight through it. We still have two games to go so we will continue to work and go on the road on Saturday!"
With the wins, the Bulldogs are now 29-14 on the year, which is probably the most wins in program history, but certainly the most since stats started being kept on Dakstats, which was back in 2004. They are also now 18-4 in the KCAC. They will wrap up the regular season on Saturday, on the road at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. The Bulldogs still have a chance to win the conference, but they will need to sweep the Eagles on Saturday, and Avila will need to drop at least one of their final two games against St. Mary. Saturday's doubleheader in Bartlesville, Oklahoma is slated to start at 1 p.m.