Softball nears home opener
The South Dakota State University softball team swept the Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers in a doubleheader on Thursday afternoon in Mitchell, S.D. The Jackrabbits outscored the Tigers by a total of 25-4 in the twin bill that included a 14-2 victory in five innings followed by an 11-2 win in six innings.
“It was good for us. We had to make adjustments at the plate. It was good to see us play solid defense, and give our pitchers a chance to pitch out in the cold,” said Head Coach Krista Wood.
The Jacks started their scoring in the first inning of the opening contest as junior Devan Larsen blasted a solo home run over the left field fence. SDSU scored two more runs in its half of the second inning as junior Lauren Chirnside and senior Jessica Marckanich both crossed the plate on a two-run double off the bat of senior KayCee Miller. The Jacks stretched the lead to 4-0 in the top of the third inning as Larsen slapped a pitch to right center field that fell in the gap and allowed to circle the bases for an inside the park homer.
Every Jackrabbit batter crossed the plate to score in the top of the fourth inning and Chirnside, who led off the inning, scored twice. Chirnside started the inning with SDSU’s third home run of the game and closed the inning with another. D’Agostino belted a two-run homer in the inning as well. The Tigers scored both of their runs on a two-run double by Meghan Bovee in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“I think I was just tracking the ball really well and making sure I was on time with every pitch,” Larsen said.
Larsen once again started the scoring in the nightcap as she hit her third home run of the afternoon in the first inning of game two. Senior Elyse Eitel scored on a passed ball as the Jacks lead 2-0 after the first inning. Marckanich expanded the SDSU lead to 3-0 in the top of the second as she crossed the plate on a ground ball hit by freshman Dana Chavez. The Jacks doubled their lead to 6-0 in the third inning as Larsen led off the inning with a double to left and later scored. D’Agostino scored on an RBI single by Markanich. Markanich crossed the plate to score SDSU’s final run of the inning.
Katy Lazenby and Lorissa Loeppky scored the only DWU runs in the home half of the third on a two-run single by Danielle Klassen. Senior Vanessa Kellems scored on a RBI single by Eitel, which was followed by a ground ball to the DWU second baseman that scored Larsen as the Jacks took an 8-2 lead going into the bottom of the fourth. Larsen crossed the plate on a one-run double to left field by D’Agostino to score the first of three runs in the SDSU half of the sixth inning. D’Agostino later scored before Markanich scored on a single by Miller.
“I think [the batters] were just being patient in the box and squaring up pitches they could hit,” Wood said. “We didn’t have any errors on the day and I thought our pitchers did a good job of hitting their spot and getting a head in the count.”
Chirnside led the Jacks offensively in the first game by having three hits in three at bats and driving in two runs and scoring three times. Larsen added two RBIs and three runs after going two for two from the plate. Miller also went two for two in the opening game, drove in three runs and scored once. Sophomore Ashlyn Bender moved to 5-5 on the season as she earned the win from the pitching circle for SDSU. Bender completed three scoreless innings and allowed only one hit and one walk, while striking out two batters.
Larsen had three hits in three at bats for SDSU in the second game and one RBI and scored four runs in the second game. D’Agonstino went two for four from the plate and added two runs and two RBIs in the nightcap. Freshman Bryana Clark went the distance in game two to earn the pitching win and move to 2-6 on the season. Clark gave up two runs on five hits and two walks. She also struck out five Tiger hitters.
“Being able to have the opportunity [to play] today keeps up going after we didn’t have three weeks of playing last month, it really killed us, so just being able to get games in is really important for us,” Larsen said.
The Jackrabbits fell to the University of Missouri – Kansas City ‘Roos on Tuesday afternoon in Kansas City. The ‘Roos mustered an 8-7 victory in the first game of the doubleheader as they edged SDSU in eight innings and claimed a 4-2 win in the nightcap. The Jacks moved 8-14 on the season with the losses as D’Agonstino went four for six from the plate on the day and had two runs batted in to lead the SDSU offensively. Larsen also drove in three runs and Chirnside blasted a two-run home run in the losing effort. Bender took the loss from the pitching circle in the first game and Clark suffered the pitching loss in the second game.
The Jacks will return to action April 1 as they travel to Marshall, Minn. for a twin bill with Southwest Minnesota State, before making their home debut in Brookings Friday, April 3 at noon against Omaha.