Tiger softball 1-1 in Day 1

By The Hays Daily News

OVERLAND PARK -- The Fort Hays State University softball team, likely needing a deep run in the MIAA postseason conference tournament to secure a NCAA Division II tournament bid, went 1-1 on the first day of action in Overland Park.

The Tigers, the No. 4 seed, used a big comeback, including a walk-off double from center fielder Amanda Vaupel, to defeat fifth-seeded University of Central Missouri, 6-5. Then, FHSU lost to eighth-seeded Northeastern (Okla.) State University, 7-4 at the Blue Valley Recreation Complex. Both games occurred Thursday night.

Fort Hays, ranked ninth in the Central Region, moved to 29-19.

The top eight in each region qualify for next week's NCAA tournament.

Arkansas Tech, which went from unranked to eighth in this week's poll, also went 1-1 in the first day of Great American Conference play. Arkansas Tech swept Fort Hays in a road doubleheader earlier this year. Fort Hays was set to play Lindenwood (Mo.) University in a consolation bracket game at 11 a.m. today in the double elimination tournament.

NSU had defeated top-ranked Emporia State University in the first round, the first time a No. 8 seed defeated a No. 1 since record books started being kept in the MIAA tournament in 2000, according to the league office.

Against UCM, FHSU trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the third after UCM's Jakki Prater hit a big two-run homer in the first inning. Fort Hays tied the game at two, but then UCM (27-22) scored two in the top of the fifth on a homer from Lindsey Dawson. UCM added another run in the top of the sixth before FHSU tallied two in the sixth and two in the seventh.

With the wind blowing out, the teams combined for five homers. Courtney Dobson, Vaupel and Kellsi Olsen each homered for the Tigers. Paxton Duran (17-8) worked a complete game with five runs allowed on nine hits with 13 strikeouts and one walk.

In the seventh, Dobson opened with a homer to left-center. Then, Prater (15-12) relieved UCM starter Katie Shockley. After two walks and a popout on a bunt, Kylie Strand struck out looking. But on the first pitch, Vaupel doubled down the left field line for the game-winning run.

NSU (28-28) scored three runs in the first on a three-run homer by Alyssa Aguilar. Fort Hays eventually took a 4-3 lead after three innings, but the Riverhawks came back with one run in the fourth and three in the fifth.

Kelsey Kimminau (10-8) took the loss for the Tigers. She went 4.1 innings and allowed nine hits with seven runs (six earned) with one strikeout against two walks. Duran pitched the final 2.2 innings.