Jackrabbits offense struggles against Omaha

By ANDREW HOLTAN Sports Editor

The South Dakota State softball team won a single game during their three game series against the Omaha Mavericks over the weekend.

The Jacks, who are now 17-30 overall and 4-8 in the Summit League, won their first game of the series Friday 8-4. Freshman first baseman Paige Gerdes hit a grand slam in the first inning to put SDSU up 4-0. It was her first home run of the season. Ali Herdliska added to the lead in the fourth inning, hitting a two-run home run, which was her fifth of the season and put SDSU up 6-1.

They led 8-2 heading into the seventh inning when Madison Hope came in, replacing Ashlyn Bender after she gave up two runs to start the inning. Hope struck out the final two batters and Bender was credited with the victory, improving to 9-10 on the season.

“We played good defense, we pitched well, we hit well — everything was flowing,” said head coach Krista Wood.

The teams played a doubleheader Saturday, losing the first game 11-1 in five innings and the second 10-4.

 Omaha outhit SDSU 30 to 14 in the two games. The Mavericks did not hit any home runs in the first game, but hit three in the second. The Jacks had six errors.

“Saturday we came out, we had two errors in the first inning and it just kind of deflated them and as a young team sometimes they have to be resilient,” Wood said.

SDSU got all their runs from home runs by senior Christian McKone, sophomore Lyndsey Crist and sophomore Mallory McQuistan during the double-header.

 “We don’t preach that we’re swinging to the fences, but we do need to work on scoring runs off of base hits and what you would call a rally, rather than scoring off of one pitch and one swing,” Wood said. “So, we’ve been working on trying to string together hits and sometimes, when we get runners in scoring position, we try to swing too hard.”

The home run by McKone was her first of the season and she ended up going 3-5 during the double-header.

“In my two-and-a-half years here, she [McKone] had always hit from the left side of the plate,” Wood said. “In the last few weeks, we switched her around to the right side and she’s been going up there and swinging hard and making contact.”

SDSU was supposed to have a doubleheader against the University of North Dakota Tuesday, but the games were canceled due to weather. Wood was happy about this decision.

“At this point, right now, it doesn’t really hurt us,” Wood said. “It’s been a long season, so it helps us recover a little bit more and helps us get a little more rest.”

The Jacks will be traveling to Fargo, North Dakota for a three-game series with North Dakota State Bison April 27 and 28 at the Elig Sports Complex.

NDSU comes into the series with an overall record of 20-26 and 7-5 in the Summit League. The Bison are led by freshman Stephanie Soriano, who has an average of .296 at the plate. Sophomore Vanessa Anderson leads the team with nine home runs.

The top six teams in the Summit League go to The Summit League Tournament in Fargo, North Dakota. Right now, the Jacks are in sixth place and are two games ahead of Fort Wayne, who is in seventh. They have six games left and Wood thinks they need to step it up on defense.

“What we’re talking about right now is to pride ourselves on defense and outwork the other teams on defense. I think if we can keep ourselves in the game defensively, then we can be in every single game and then that leaves things open for whatever happens on offense,” Wood said.

SDSU will return to Brookings to close out the season May 6 and 7 when they take on Western Illinois at the Jackrabbit Softball Stadium.