A status quo split

Jennaye Derge/Durango Herald

Chelsea Rodriguez powered the Fort Lewis College softball team’s offense Sunday against Colorado Mesa with three hits and four runs batted in. She hit her 10th home run of the season in the second game of the doubleheader.

By Kyle Grabowski Herald staff writer

Colorado Mesa and Fort Lewis College are separated by one spot in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference softball standings.

Four games over the weekend at Aspen Field didn’t do anything to change that.

FLC (21-17, 17-11 RMAC) split Sunday’s doubleheader with Colorado Mesa (17-15, 16-10 RMAC) after a similar result Saturday.

The Skyhawks battled back from an early two-run deficit to defeat the Mavericks 7-6 in the first game.

Four consecutive Mavericks reached base to start the game and plate two runs.

FLC starter Victoria Johnson worked out of trouble in the second, third and fourth innings before FLC head coach Kira Zeiter called for a “bust it wide open” chant in the middle of the fourth inning.

The Skyhawks didn’t bust anything, but they scored their first run on a wild pitch.

Misfortune struck when FLC third baseman Chelsea Rodriguez was hit in the left thigh with a pitch.

She walked to first base thinking she would be awarded it and was examined by the Skyhawks’ coaching staff.

The umpires called her out because she swung at the previous pitch.

Rodriguez found redemption in the bottom of the fifth inning.

She was at the plate with the bases loaded and a two-run deficit.

The game was tied after Rodriguez slapped a grounder up the middle to drive home two runs.

“Resiliency is huge in the RMAC,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone’s so closely ranked. Anyone can get that hit.”

Both teams scored two runs in the sixth, and Colorado Mesa tacked on another in the top of the seventh on a Karissa Nickeson home run to take a 6-5 lead.

Catcher Hayley Bolyard tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with a run batted in on a single, which also advanced Myndee Thompson to third base.

Thompson later scored on a wild pitch to win the game for the Skyhawks.

“We knew we were in the game the whole time,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a matter of keeping at it and getting those lucky bounces.”

Johnson picked up the win in that game for FLC after throwing north of 120 pitches.

Kiley Raica wasn’t as fortunate in the circle in the second game of the day as the Skyhawks lost to the Mavericks 8-5.

Colorado Mesa scored five runs in the first five innings before Rodriguez responded in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run homer, her 10th of the season.

The Mavericks tacked on three runs in the top of the sixth that proved critical because FLC scored one run in the bottom of the sixth and two in the bottom of the seventh while bringing a potential tying run to the plate twice.

Bolyard struck out swinging for the fences, and Mariah Stuart flew out to center field to end the game.

“This group is good at supporting each other. They’re able to pick each other up,” Zeiter said. “They know that they’re never out of the game.”

Colorado Mesa remains in fourth place and the Skyhawks in fifth in the RMAC standings.

“I think we all want all the wins,” Zeiter said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Mesa again in the postseason, so we’ll look forward to that.”

FLC next plays a doubleheader against Dixie State (St. George, Utah) at 2 p.m. Tuesday at home at Aspen Field.

kgrabowski@durangoherald.com

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