KEARNEY, Neb. — Fort Hays State University softball combined a pair of early and late rallies to pick up a road sweep of Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday.
With the sweep, the Tigers earn the No. 7 seed in the MIAA Tournament and a first-round matchup with No. 2 Northwest Missouri State on Thursday in Oklahoma City. The Tigers are 20-24 on the season and finish their MIAA slate at 13-13.
The Tigers got all the run support they needed early in a 4-2 victory in Game 1.
Samantha Villarreal shot an RBI double down the right-field line in the first to score Rilee Krier and open up a 1-0 advantage.
In the second inning, Tori Beltz cleared the bases with a two-out double to left field to give FHSU a 4-0 advantage.
UNK scored on solo homers in the fourth and sixth frames but seven innings of eight-hit work by Paxton Duran (13-17) was enough to earn the win.
UNK rallied for four runs with outs in the first to open up the scoring in Game 2. Erin Dwyer added to the lead with a first-pitch homer to lead off the third inning.
FHSU finally got on the board thanks to a passed ball in the fifth.
Back-to-back singles by Madeline LaPolla and Erin Elmore scored a pair of runs to bring the deficit to 5-3 in the sixth.
The Tigers scored runs in three consecutive at-bats to take a 6-3 lead in the top of the seventh, but a two-out RBI single by Kami Merrill tied the game and sent the teams to extras.
In the eighth, Krier got on base and advanced to second on an error, eventually moving to third on a sacrifice bunt. Beltz sent a sacrifice shot to center field, scoring Krier and sealing the 7-6 victory. UNK went down in order to end the game. Duran earned the victory in two innings of relief.
The Tigers return to the diamond today for a non-conference doubleheader with UNK at 2 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.
Fort Hays State 4, Nebraska-Kearney 2
FHSU 130 000 0 — 4 8 0
UNK 000 101 0 — 2 8 0
WP — Duran (13-17). LP — Larsen (6-11). FHSU: Duran and Elmore; UNK: Larsen and Dwyer. RB — FHSU: Krier, Beltz, Villarreal; UNK: Dallas, Housholder. HR — UNK: Larsen, Stern.
Fort Hays State 7, Nebraska-Kearney 6
FHSU 000 012 31 — 7 9 1
UNK 401 000 10 — 6 11 2
WP — Duran (14-17). LP — Merrill (8-9). FHSU: Clarke, Duran (7) and Elmore. UNK: Merrill, Housloder (8) and Dwyer. 2B — FHSU: Dobson; UNK: Stern. HR — UNK: Dwyer.