Heartbreaking losses are not always a bad thing.The SDSU softball team experienced this phenomena first hand March 23–24 in a three-game non-conference series with the University of Northern Colorado. The Bears swept the Jacks in three tight matches, posting wins of 3-2, 8-7 and 2-1. The series wins move UNC to 15-14 on the season, while the Jackrabbits fall to 4-15.
“We played well enough to win,” head coach Kim Aggabao said. “We outhit them two of the three games, but we couldn’t quite pull it together to close out them out.”
The series began with a one-point UNC lead for the first two innings of the opener, but that all changed when the Jacks got the bats going in the third with three hits that inning. An RBI each by junior Marlee Petersen and sophomore Kelly Kleppin gave the Jacks two runs and the lead. However, UNC battled back, scoring one run in the fourth inning followed by the leading run in the fifth to hold on to the win.
The second game featured an impressive offensive output by both teams, with the Jacks claiming 15 hits over the course of the game. SDSU began the game by quickly digging themselves into a 3-0 hole in the second inning, but then added four runs in the following inning to take the lead after a bases-loaded double by freshman Elyse Eitel scored sophomore Sammy Bingham and junior Devon Reick.
The Jackrabbits onslaught was quickly countered by UNC, with the Bears adding four more to their point total in the bottom of the third to take the lead at 7-4. Over the next three innings, SDSU added three runs to their total, highlighted by junior Krista Honken’s first homerun of the season in the seventh, evening the score at seven all. SDSU could not hold back the Bears though, as a lead-off walk followed by a one out RBI drove in the winning run for UNC in the bottom of the seventh.
Aggabao felt that there was a lot to take away from the first two games, despite the losses.
“I just told the team to focus on the positives. We had so much improvement from last week’s series [Western Illinois] to this one. We came out to play, and we know we can pull it all together,” she said.
The final game of the series remained scoreless until the top of the fourth when Devon Reick batted in Krista Honken to score the lone Jackrabbit run. The Bears countered with an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth to even the score. UNC claimed the win once again in the bottom of the seventh with a two out RBI single to win 2-1.
The Jackrabbits will head to Lincoln, Neb. on March 28 to take on the University of Nebraska before returning to Brookings for the home opener against USD March 30-31.