The Shawnee State softball program picked up a pair of pivotal Mid-South Conference wins, defeating Pikeville 5-2 in game one and 4-1 in game two in today’s doubleheader.
The Bears struck first in game one as Tara Duncan stole home in the top of the fourth to give the Bears the lead. Shawnee State added another run in the following frame when Duncan drove in Haley Rawlins with her own sacrifice fly.
The Bears scored once more in the top of the sixth as Ashtyn Saunders drove in MacKenzie Riley with a squeeze bunt. Pikeville scored one in the bottom of the sixth, but the Bears got the run back in the top of the seventh. Kayla Koch hit her fourth home run of the season in the top of the inning, and the Bears added another insurance run on another Ashtyn Saunders squeeze.
The Bears needed every one of their four runs as Pikeville threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. Destiny Molden started the inning with a single and reached third on a double by Lindsay Floyd. Molden then scored on Ashley Goines’ single, allowing Pikeville to bring the tying run up to the plate. However, Shawnee State pitcher Brooke Blevins bore down and recorded the final three outs to escape the jam and preserve the SSU victory.
Blevins obtained the win with a complete game, allowing two runs on seven hits and recording five strikeouts. Hannah Skaggs also threw a complete game, allowing five runs, of which three were earned, on nine hits in seven innings.
In contrast to the opening affair, Pikeville got the scoring started in game two when Jordan Gentry scored on a wild pitch by SSU starting pitcher McKenzie Whittaker. However, Whittaker turned it around and dominated from there on as the wild pitch accounted for the Bears’ only run.
Shawnee State took the lead back in the top of the third inning as Miranda Melvin reached first base on an error by Pikeville’s Kitty Raymond, and pinch runner Madi Phillips stole second. Ashtyn Saunders moved Phillips to third on a bunt single, and both Phillips and Saunders scored one batter later on a wild throw by Hannah Thacker. Haley Rawlins, who reached second on the throw, scored later in the inning on Tara Duncan’s single.
From there, Shawnee State cruised to the victory, but not before the Bears added one more run in the sixth, when Melvin singled home MacKenzie Riley.
McKenzie Whittaker picked up the win, allowing only one run on four hits in a seven-inning complete game effort. Pikeville’s Hannah Thacker allowed four runs on eight hits and also went the entire distance.
With the wins, Shawnee State improves to 12-9 on the season and is now 6-6 in the Mid-South Conference. The Bears are now in third place in the league and hold a three-game advantage over Georgetown in the win column for the third spot. Pikeville falls to 9-21 and is 1-11 in the conference.
In all, the Shawnee State softball program has shown vast improvement throughout the balance of the 2017 season to this point. Their 12 wins over their first 21 affairs have already exceeded the overall record that the Bears put up through all of last year, when Shawnee State went 11-35 over their 46-game slate last year.
Shawnee State, who is 6-6 overall in the Mid-South Conference, has also improved upon its conference record from the year prior. The Bears only went 4-20 in conference play last season.
Shawnee State returns to action on Friday, March 31st when they travel to Columbia, Kentucky for another pivotal four-game set with No. 11 Lindsey Wilson. First pitch for Friday’s game one is scheduled for 3 p.m.
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