Jacks gear up for final road games before first home stand

By ANDREW HOLTAN Sports Editor

The South Dakota State softball team took on in-state rival South Dakota in a three-game series in Vermillion over the weekend. They fell to 13-24 overall and 1-5 in the Summit League after losing two out of the three games.

The Jacks played a doubleheader Saturday and dropped a close one, losing 7-6 in the first game. They bounced back in the second game, winning 10-3. 

The Jacks had a combined 27 hits in the first two games, including five extra base hits. Sophomore catcher Mallory McQuistan went 4-6 in the first two games. Sophomore first baseman Ali Herdliska hit a home run in the second game. Freshman pitcher Abby Deane started both games and pitched a complete game in the win.

SDSU’s bats would quiet down in the third game, as they fell 8-0 in eight innings and only had two hits. Senior pitcher Ashlyn Bender took the loss, falling to 6-9 on the season, after allowing four runs in 1.1 innings pitched.

“The difference between the win and losses was we left runners in scoring position. I believe we left 12 runners in scoring position in the first game,” head coach Krista Wood said.

McQuistan went hitless in the final game of the weekend, but Wood was impressed with how well she played.

“You know she just went up there and swung at good pitches,” Wood said. “She hit the ball where it was pitched and I thought she just had a really good approach the whole weekend.”

The Jacks will end their two-month-long stretch of games on the road this week. They will travel to Grand Forks, North Dakota Wednesday to take on the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks in a doubleheader. Then SDSU travels to Kansas City, Missouri April 11 to take on University of Missouri Kansas City Kangaroos in a doubleheader as well.

UND comes into the games with a 14-23 record. The Jacks lead the all-time series against the Fighting Hawks 51-26 and split the four games they played last season.

SDSU comes into the matchup hitting .262 with 48 doubles, eight triples and one home run. They have scored 122 runs and have 114 runs batted in. UND is hitting .228 with 35 doubles, two triples and 17 home runs.

The Jacks are led by Herdliska who is 14th in the country with .38 doubles per game. She has 14 doubles on the season. She is also hitting .327, with three home runs on the season.

The Fighting Hawks are led by outfielder Rachael Waynick. She is the only player on UND hitting above .300, with an average of .387. Outfielder Taylor Nader leads the team with six home runs and 21 RBIs.  

UMKC will come into the games against SDSU with a 10-25 record. They are led by outfielder Kendra Leach, who is hitting .396 and infielder Morgan Bryn, who has five home runs on the season. 

These will be the Jacks’ final four road games before they play eight games in a row at Jackrabbit Sports Complex in Brookings.

“Both teams are very scrappy,” Wood said. “They definitely put the ball in play, have good pitching and we’re going to have to be on top of our game and execute when needed.”