Tigers split pair of well-pitched games with Rogers State
Fort Hays State softball played to a split with Rogers State on Friday at Tiger Stadium in a pair of low-scoring, well-pitched games. Rogers State took the first contest 2-0, but FHSU responded with a 3-1 win in game two. The Tigers are now 20-18 overall, 13-7 in the MIAA, while Rogers State moved to 24-13-1 overall, 12-8 in the MIAA.
Game 1: Rogers State 2, Fort Hays State 0
Michaelanne Nelson of Fort Hays State and Andrea Morales of Rogers State, two of the top pitchers in the MIAA, engaged in a duel in the pitching circle in game one. The pitchers combined for 13 scoreless half innings, but Rogers State broke through for the game's only runs in the third inning and held on for the win.
Both teams went hitless in the first two innings, but the Hillcats broke through in the third on a leadoff double by Brielle Tyseling. With one out, Tailee Reding put Rogers State on the board with a single back up the middle to plate Tyseling. The Hillcats would get one more run on a throwing error by the Tigers, so only the first run of the inning was earned.
That was enough for Andrea Morales, the MIAA leader in ERA and strikeouts, who tossed a complete-game, four-hit shutout against the Tigers. She struck out nine, but the Tigers did have solid chances to score runs. They had a golden opportunity to get one or two runs in the fifth with runners at second and third with one out. However, Morales got two of her strikeouts to end the threat. The Tigers got their first two batters aboard in the sixth, only to strikeout, pop up, and strikeout again to end another threat. Morales retired the Tigers in order in the seventh to complete her shutout.
Nelson took a tough-luck loss as she allowed one less hit than Morales, holding the Hillcats to just three. Unfortunately, two of the three generated the only earned run in the game. Nelson struck out eight Hillcat batters and allowed just two walks.
Game 2: Fort Hays State 3, Rogers State 1
Hailey Chapman produced another strong outing in the pitching circle to give the Tigers a much-needed split for their second-straight doubleheader. On offense, the Tigers needed just one big blow delivered by Elise Capra in the second inning on a 3-run home run.
Loren Beggs started the rally for FHSU in the second inning with a single to leadoff the inning. Jessica Espinoza sacrificed her up to second base, then Sarah Tiffany drew a walk to put two aboard. Capra stepped to the plate and mashed a towering drive over the left field wall for an instant three runs for the Tigers.
Chapman surrendered her only run to the Hillcats in the sixth on a bases-loaded ground out, but she ended the threat by getting a pop up to end the inning. She went on to retire the final 13 batters of the game, holding down any chance of a Hillcat comeback. She finished with five strikeouts in her complete-game effort, scattering six hits with no walks.
Delanie Freeze took the loss for Rogers State, pitching just the first two innings. She struck out two. M'Kayla Hillman pitched the final four innings for Rogers State and allowed one hit, one walk, and struck out one.
Fort Hays State will enter Saturday's doubleheader with Northeastern State in a tie for fourth place in the MIAA standings with Missouri Western, both at 13-7. Rogers State remained in sixth at 12-8.
The Tigers were set to celebrate Senior Day on Saturday against Northeastern State at Tiger Stadium in Hays.