Softball snags 2 wins in Florida

Robert Myers

SDSU softball traveled to Clermont, Fla. to play six games over the weekend, winning two of them.

After a slow start on Friday when they dropped their first two games to Kansas City and Middle Tennessee State, the Jacks rebounded with strong performances on Saturday, running away from University of Massachusetts Lowell, 9-1, and then defeating Liberty University, 14-6, in five innings.

“On that day we played solid defense, we had all three components working – defense, pitching and offense,” head coach Krista Wood said.

Both of Saturday’s games featured big innings offensively for the Jacks. A five-run second inning paved the way for Ashlyn Bender’s second win of the year against UMass Lowell then freshman Bryana Clark picked up the win in relief against Liberty after her offense posted seven runs in the bottom of the second. So far on the season, Clark has a sub-three earned run average (ERA) and recorded a win and a save in 24.1 innings of work.

“Bryana is actually doing a very good job as a freshman,” Wood said. “She’s really buying into what we’re doing and she’s executing her pitches and doing a great job of keeping batters off balance.”

Saturday’s momentum could not carry over into Sunday though. Friday’s defensive lapses recurred, causing the Jacks to fall 6-5 to Cleveland State and 13-0 to No. 18 University of Missouri.

“I would say this weekend our defense was a little bit up and down,” Wood said. “The first day we were a little rough and the third day we were a little rough, but the second day we had solid defense. Right now we know that if we can play solid defense we have a chance in every game.”

What the Cleveland State final doesn’t show is that the final was much closer than it could have been. Following four unearned runs in the fifth, the Vikings went up 6-0, but SDSU then responded with three runs in the top of the sixth. In the seventh Devin Larson belted her third homer of the year to bring the Jacks to within one.

“Our girls are doing a good job of staying in every game and battling back,” Wood said. “We tell our girls to play out seven innings and the game isn’t over until it’s over. We almost came back. We just fell a little short.”

The Missouri game would not feature the same though. Bender held the Tigers to three runs through the first four innings, but was chased by three more runs in the fifth before Missouri turned it loose for seven runs in the seventh to wrap up the weekend.

Next up for the Jackrabbits is a weekend trip to Clarksville, Tenn. for the Governor’s Classic in which they will square off against Summit League foe Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne on Friday, Feb. 20 at 12:30 p.m.

“We’re really going to focus this week on our defense and trying to make sure that we’re communicating and that we’re executing plays,” Wood said. “It will be good to see another conference team and get a feel of where we might be at in the conference.