After starting Summit League play on the road with a sweep of IUPUI, the Jacks were swept in their second conference road series, losing three games to Centenary last weekend.
SDSU (7-27, 4-5) lost the first game 7-2 despite a two-run home run by catcher Dani Broshar in the first inning. Broshar now leads the team with three home runs, and she set a new career high after going without a homer her freshman year and hitting two dingers last season.
Centenary (24-13, 7-3) would come back in the bottom of the second with a three-run home run from junior catcher Haley Bassett after two walks put runners on first and second.
The Ladies scored two runs in the third on a home run by freshman Katie Mathews and two more runs in the fourth. The Jackrabbits had two errors that inning.
“Brittany Postma and Jenna Marston are the two catalyst of the team,” said head coach Joanna Lane. “It seems if they play well, then the entire team plays well. For us in the first game, the tone was set when Brittany struck out on a couple of pitches that probably weren’t strikes, but they were consistently called strikes all weekend, so therefore they are strikes. Jenna had trouble finding the plate and walked quite a few throughout the game. When you have that as the focal point of your team, it makes it pretty difficult.”
In game two, the Jacks got off to another early lead with a Greta Stroh two-run home run in the top of the second. Centenary came right back with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. They would add another run in the fifth to win by a margin of 4-2.
The final game saw the Jacks lose 1-0 on an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth. SDSU’s lone hit came on a Brittany Postma single to lead off the fourth.
Marston pitched six innings, allowing one run and two hits while striking out a season-high nine batters.
“I don’t think Centenary’s pitching is anything spectacular,” Lane said. “I think that Pam [Nicholson] and Jenna are better pitchers than Centenary’s when it comes to moving the ball around and making different pitchers. The difference was that Centenary’s pitchers were very consistent in throwing strikes. Whether or not they were the definition of a strike is debatable by some of our players, but they got the strike calls that they needed. Our kids weren’t really able to make an adjustment on that zone.”
SDSU now sits in seventh place, a game back of fourth place IPFW (11-16, 6-5) who travel to Brookings to start a three-game series with a doubleheader starting April 10 at 3 p.m. The Jacks have only played the Mastodons twice, winning both games, 4-0 in 1998 and an 8-0 win in 2007 in Florida. The team’s series last season was rained out.
“They have a lefty pitcher (Rachel Staschuk) that throws a lot of change-ups,” said Lane. “We have some kids that will let those pitches go and hope they are not strikes because they are not good change-up hitters, and we have some kids that will just sit on that change-up because she (Staschuk) will throw it a couple of times each at bat.”
With the Summit League standings bunched up, three and a half games separate second place Western Illinois and SDSU. Every game down the stretch will have meaning and importance if the Jacks are to finish in the top four and earn a spot in the Summit League Tournament.
“I think that the whole Summit League has a bunch of parity,” said Lane. “Seven of the nine teams are at or one game below .500, and we only take four to the conference tournament. I think it is going to be ugly with that battle. I think every team is searching for a little consistency in the conference. It is going to come down to who can play the most consistent softball.”
Even though the Jacks are not yet halfway through the conference schedule, Lane said that it is not too early to be keeping an eye on what other teams are doing.
“It shouldn’t be too early because some teams are halfway through the conference season and [the standings] should be very clear, and they are not. We take the road [thinking] that we have to beat everybody. We have more conference games left than almost anybody because of where the bye week falls. For us to do well, we have to play our softball and make sure that we take care of the things that we need to do no matter who the opponent is.”
A home doubleheader against the University of North Dakota was scheduled to take place on April 7 at 3 p.m. but was postponed due to poor field conditions. No make-up date has been announced.