The Fort Lewis College softball team had plenty of momentum, as the Skyhawks took their best start in three decades into Thursday’s Dixie State Softball Courtyard Classic tournament doubleheader in St. George, Utah.
FLC lost 6-3 to Hawaii Pacific University and dropped an 8-7 extra-inning decision to Montana State University-Billings in the second game to fall to 3-2 this season.
Despite the pair of losses, senior Angelique Elemen set the new program record for career home runs, as she had two homers on the day. The second against the Yellowjackets brought her total to 43. The previous record of 42 was set by Chelsea Rodriguez, who played from 2011-14.
“It was awesome,” Elemen said of her new record. “I was just trying to get a big hit for my team, and when it went over, I was thinking ‘finally’ when I was rounding the bases. I thought I was never going to be able to break through, so I was thrilled when it went over the fence. It’s been tough at times, and I’ve have had to adjust my swing a bit, so it was cool to overcome it.”
FLC head coach Elle Fracker was impressed with Elemen’s ability to stay strong at the plate despite going through some tough stretches.
“By the time you get to your senior year, everybody knows how to pitch to you,” Fracker said. “There were some doubters who were talking about her numbers declining, but I think we’re seeing the type of hitter she can be again. The fact that she still has that amount of power even after a couple of surgeries, it’s a testament to the type of player she is.”
In the first game against Hawaii Pacific, the Skyhawks climbed back from a 3-0 deficit behind Elemen’s first home run of the day in the top of the fourth, followed by Pilar Gutierrez’s first-career home run with a two-run shot in the fifth to knot the game at three.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Sharks scored the go-ahead run and added an insurance run thanks to Ciena Curran, who finished 1-for-3 with the game-winning double to left field. She then scored on a throwing error to make it 6-3. Fort Lewis was unable to answer and dropped the first game.
In the afternoon game against the Yellowjackets, the Skyhawks got off to a 6-1 lead in the third and carried it into the top of the fifth. The Yellowjackets then scored five runs, including four in the bottom of the fifth, and the game went into extra innings. Sidney Pollard singled in the top of the eighth, and the Yellowjackets added one more to make it 8-6.
Fort Lewis had a chance to tie the game with a runner on third with two outs with a run already in, but FLC could not deliver a tying hit and fell 8-7.
“We had a chance there with a runner in scoring position, and we always want it to be our last at-bat with an opportunity to win the game,” Fracker said. “We just couldn’t get it done. But there’s something to take from every game, and we’ll learn from this one.”
FLC will play three more games this weekend, going up against Central Washington at 10 a.m. Friday followed by Western Washington at 3 p.m. at Dixie State.