Tiger softball earns sweep
Published on -4/22/2012, 7:49 PM
By KLINT SPILLER
Fort Hays State University's star pitcher junior Maddie Holub carried the lion's share of the weight Saturday. However, it was an unheralded sophomore who saved the day, as the FHSU softball team swept Pittsburg State University 5-1 and 7-5 at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers (27-17, 11-7 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) now will take third in the conference no matter the result of today's games with Missouri Southern State University, as Pittsburg State dropped to 29-26 and 11-9 in the MIAA.
"We have our eyes on the prize," Tiger coach Erin Kinberger said.
"We have goals, and that was definitely one of them."
Holub tied her school record of 16 strikeouts in Game 1 and started Game 2, shutting Pittsburg State out for the first three innings.
But after Holub was relieved in the fourth inning of Game 2, the Gorillas battled back scoring two runs in the fourth and fifth to take the lead.
Down 5-4 with two outs and no runners on base in the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers were needing a miracle.
A pair of underclassmen answered.
Freshman center fielder Amanda Vaupel tied the game with a home run to left field, and sophomore shortstop Kellsi Olsen hit a 2-RBI walk-off home run over the left field wall off the first pitch.
"I couldn't ask for any more heart or dedication from this group today," Kinberger said. "We had been hitting a little bit of a slump in the past, and these kids battled right through it. That's exactly what good athletes do."
Olsen, who was batting .220 with just two home runs heading into the doubleheader and had went 0-for-3 prior to her last at bat, had a conference with Kinberger prior to her hit.
"I just talked to coach, and she told me to use my hands and not my body, trust them and be aggressive, so I went after the first pitch," Olsen said.
In Game 1, Holub was on fire. She had at least two strikeouts in each of the first five innings.
She finished the first game allowing one run, three walks and five hits, while striking out 16.
Her 16 strikeouts tied her single-game record that she set in the first game of the season against the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
"I really wanted the 17th, but we got the 'W' so I guess I'll take that," Holub said. "I tried not to think about it too much. When I tend to do that, I usually jinx myself."
Holub was doing so well that Kinberger decided to keep her in the circle in Game 2, and she didn't slow down much.
Holub allowed only one hit and struck out three before getting pulled prior to the fourth.
"We didn't want to overuse her," Kinberger said.
Junior pitcher Kaitlyn Shattleroe relieved Holub and allowed four runs and five hits and walked one.
Kinberger elected to go to freshman pitcher Abby Morrison with two outs in the top of the fifth.
Morrison got the out and pitched the last two innings, allowing a run and three hits.
Kinberger said the coaching staff sat down with Morrison earlier to get her prepared for moments like this.
"Freshmen are going to take their lumps, but she really came focused today and prepared to do her job," Kinberger said.
Senior second baseman Taylor Nelson had a big day at the plate, batting 2-of-4 in Game 1 and 3-of-3 in Game 2. She scored three runs and batted in three in the two games.
The Tigers will play Missouri Southern (16-33, 5-13 MIAA) in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. today at Tiger Stadium.
The victories ensured their best finish in the MIAA since 2007 when they finished third in a tiebreaker, but Kinberger said they will prepare for today like any other game.
"We don't overlook anyone," she said.