BOLIVAR, Mo. - Fort Hays State experienced a case of déjà vu, having to salvage the final of four MIAA road games on Saturday (Apr. 20). It was the second straight weekend where the Tigers led in all four games of the weekend, losing the first three before winning the final contest. Southwest Baptist snapped a 16-game losing streak in game one with help from a pair of Tiger miscues, taking the contest 3-1 before Michaelanne Nelson tossed her first shutout of the season in game two for FHSU in a 5-0 win with its postseason hopes hanging in the balance. Fort Hays State is now 20-21 overall, 11-13 in the MIAA, while SBU moved to 6-43 overall, 3-19 in the MIAA.
Game 1: Southwest Baptist 3, Fort Hays State 1
Fort Hays State picked a bad time to struggle offensively and defensive mistakes in the fifth inning allowed Southwest Baptist to sneak by the Tigers in the first contest. Sierra Rodriguez provided the Tigers' only run with a solo home run to left field in the second inning, putting the Tigers up 1-0.
Fort Hays State clung to that 1-0 lead all the way until the bottom of the fifth inning. With two outs and a runner on second, a fielding error on an infield grounder allowed the inning to continue with runners at first and third. Then a passed ball allowed SBU to score and tie the game. Moments later, a bloop single into shallow left-center field drove in the runner that reached by error from second base giving SBU a 2-1 lead. The Bearcats added on to their lead in the sixth on a solo home run, their only earned run of the game.
FHSU recorded only two hits over the final five innings of the game against SBU pitcher Maddie Massanelli. From the third inning through the sixth inning, Massanelli retired 11 straight Tigers. She allowed just four hits overall and struck out three, moving to 2-18 on the season.
Hailey Chapman took the loss for FHSU in her 13th complete game effort of the season. She allowed eight hits and a walk, while striking out nine with only one earned run allowed.
Game 2: Fort Hays State 5, Southwest Baptist 0
With their potential MIAA Tournament life hanging in the balance, the Tigers received a big performance in the pitching circle from Michaelanne Nelson. She tossed a two-hit, complete game shutout to keep the Tigers in a position to potentially qualify for the MIAA Tournament, to be determined next Saturday (Apr. 27) in Hays. It was Nelson's first shutout of the season.
The Tigers scored the majority of their runs in the third inning, plating four on a string of two-out singles from Sara Breckbill, Sierra Rodriguez, and Jeni Mohr. Breckbill drove home the game's first run before Rodriguez followed a couple batters later with two RBIs. Mohr followed up Rodriguez with another RBI.
Rodriguez continued her big day at the plate for FHSU, giving the team an insurance run in the seventh with another RBI single.
It was plenty for Nelson, who had a no-hitter going through 4.1 innings. Emily Hall broke up that no-hit bid in the fifth on an infield single. Paige St. Pierre was the only other Bearcat to record a hit against Nelson, which occurred in the sixth. Nelson struck out six and walked three, moving to 9-10 on the season.
MIAA Tournament Scenario
Fort Hays State was looking for a sweep on Saturday to move back into seventh place in the MIAA standings, but came up short of that goal and now sits in 10th place alongside Missouri Southern with just two conference games remaining. Nebraska-Kearney switched spots with FHSU in the standings over the weekend, now in a three-way tie for seventh with Pittsburg State and Lindenwood, all at .500 in MIAA play.
Fort Hays State and Nebraska-Kearney will sit idle on Friday (Apr. 26) while several other MIAA contests will shape up the standings for the final day of MIAA play on Saturday, April 27. FHSU and UNK will meet in Hays on the 27th in a doubleheader that will likely determine both teams' postseason fate. The only way FHSU can jump UNK in the standings is with a sweep of the upcoming doubleheader.
-Sierra Rodriguez drove home four of Fort Hays State's six runs in the doubleheader.
-Michaelanne Nelson tossed her first shutout of the season.
-FHSU pitchers recorded an 0.54 ERA for the day, yet still had to settle for a split in the doubleheader.
-FHSU has now scored 1 or less runs in 13 of its 21 losses this season.
-FHSU is now 14-2 this year when scoring at least 5 runs in a game.
Fort Hays State has a pair of non-conference doubleheaders in the coming week before the big showdown with Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday. FHSU will host Central Christian (Kan.) College on Tuesday (Apr. 23) before heading down to Newman University in Wichita on Wednesday.