The hot start in conference play was no fluke. The Fort Lewis College softball team continue to prove it is for real Saturday.
In the first home series of the season, the Skyhawks claimed a 2-2 series split with Colorado Christian University on Friday and Saturday at Aspen Field on the FLC campus in Durango. The Cougars (20-7, 10-2 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) entered the weekend in first place of the conference.
“They can swing it, and we saw that in the middle two games,” FLC head coach Ashley Reeves said of the Cougars. “I’m very happy with the team getting a couple of wins and am excited for the girls.”
Friday’s home opener saw the Skyhawks (11-11, 8-4 RMAC) win on a two-run walk-off homer from McKenna Hefley in the bottom of the seventh to send FLC to a 3-1 win and give pitcher Mandy Lorenson her third win of the season. FLC came back from a 1-0 deficit in the second inning and tied the game on a Brianna Leavell RBI single in the third inning the scared Emily Morris, who also scored on Hefley’s homer. Lorenson went all seven innings and allowed only three hits and the one run. She struck out five but walked seven.
“She did great in Game 1,” Reeves said of Lorenson. “To hold them to one run was really good, and we had timely hits and were able to gt it done with the walk-off. It was huge to get some momentum.”
FLC would fall 13-2 in Game 2 Friday, as Colorado Christian scored four in the first and seven in the seventh. FLC’s two runs came in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run homer from Julia Roberts that scored Kelly Decker. Leavell took the loss in the pitcher’s circle in 3 1/3 innings. She gave up five runs – two earned – on four hits. She struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. Kendall Rauk pitched three innings and was tagged for six runs on six hits and two walks and a hit batter. Kassidy Trumbo pitcher 2/3 of an inning and gave up two runs on three hits.
FLC would lose Saturday’s opener 10-0 in six innings, as the Cougars tallied 14 hits to only two for FLC. It was Lorenson (3-4) who would take the loss this time. She gave up five runs – four earned – on nine hots and six walks. She struck out five in her 3 1/3 innings of work. Kendra Keahbone finished the final 2 2/3 innings. She allowed five runs on five hits and one walk.
“They answered back pretty quickly in Games 2 and 3,” Reeves said. “Then they got up 3-0 in Game 4, but we chipped away and got runs back.”
Thirteen innings after FLC had last scored a run in Game 2, the Skyhawks got on the board in a big way in the bottom of the fifth inning in Game 4. Colorado Christian had a 2-0 lead after one inning and added a run in the top of the third on a homer from Piper Lujan. But FLC struck back in the fifth on a Hefley RBI-single that scored Julia Roberts. Two batters later, Hannah Gondini had a two-run single that scored Pilar Gutierrez and Morris to tie the game 3-3.
Heroics came in the sixth inning on a Morris single to left field that would score Gutierrez for what proved the be the game-winning run.
Leavell (5-3) pitched a complete game for FLC, as she gave up two earned runs on eight hits. She struck out five and walked one.
It was a big home split for FLC, which will welcome New Mexico Highlands next Saturday and Sunday for the second of three consecutive home weekends.
FLC was happy to be at its real home after three years of field renovations or games moved elsewhere because of weather.
“These girls were real excited to be home, sleeping in their own beds and playing games here,” Reeves said. “We had batting practice on our own field, which is something they haven’t done before. Colorado Christian, I don’t know if there players had played at our place before or not, but they were talking about how nice the facilities were. It’s real nice to play at home this time of the year.
“This week, we need to step up our defense a bit and improve in all three aspects of the game. Games 2 and 3, we lacked on defensive a bit. We need to make sure we’re solid defensively. We’ve also given some outs to teams. We are looking forward to staying home again next week and going out to get some more wins.”