Softball up to sputtering start

John Green

The learning curve in the Summit League can be a steep one.

The SDSU softball team received a tough lesson in a series March 16-17, courtesy of Western Illinois University. The Leathernecks swept the series over the Jacks, claiming victories by scores of 7-2, 9-3 and 13-1. WIU improved to 13-13 on the season (5-1), while the Jackrabbits fell to 4-12 overall, remaining winless in league play (0-6).

“We’re trying to get some wins under our belt, and it won’t be easy,” first-year head coach Kim Aggabao said.

The trouble began for SDSU in the opener, with the Leathernecks earning a 4-0 lead going into the fifth inning. The Jacks showed signs of a comeback in the bottom of the fifth, scoring two runs. Momentum could not be kept however, as Western added three runs of their own in response to the SDSU rally.

“We’re trying to stress adjustments on the field,” Aggabao said. “We play hard, now we’re just looking for the chemistry we need.”

The second game of the series started out a grudge match, but quickly turned into a one-sided affair. Both teams were tied at one in the second inning before the Leathernecks added four runs to their total, claiming a 5-1 lead going into the third. That score held until the top of the sixth, when the Jackrabbits earned two runs. The Leathernecks had an answer for this effort though, posting four runs to close out the game with a 9-3 victory.

For the final game of the series, the Leathernecks were able to jump out to an explosive start, batting in 12 runs in the first two innings to firmly establish themselves for the remainder of the game. The Jacks lone run came in the fourth inning when junior Tina Winter hit an RBI single to score freshman Jessica Markanich. Western went on to close out the game by adding one final run in the bottom of the fourth to bring their point total to thirteen. The win went to WIU’s Hailey Bickford, while SDSU’s Mindy Lorimor claimed the loss for the Jackrabbits.

SDSU has been on a six-game slide, with their last win coming March 6 over Toledo. The Jackrabbits will look to right the ship against Northern Colorado, with a three-game series beginning Friday, March 23. Northern Colorado currently sits at 12-14 on the season, coming off a loss at Towson March 18.

The Jacks will be looking to use the next two weeks of out-of-conference play to prepare themselves for the bulk of Summit League competition, starting with the home opener on March 30 against the University of South Dakota. The Jackrabbits are already miles ahead of where they were in the preseason.

“We’ve had marked improvement since this fall,” Aggabao said. “We’re undoubtedly becoming the team that we want to be.”