Fort Hays softball sweeps Jets

FHSU Sports Information
Katie Adler throws over to first base during a game earlier this season. [File photo/HDN]

WICHITA, Kan. — Fort Hays State Softball took care of business on Friday (Apr. 30) by sweeping a doubleheader at Newman University. The Tigers won by scores of 6-2 and 9-1, improving to 24-18 overall on the season and 17-7 in the MIAA. The Tigers remained fourth in the MIAA standings with two games to play.

The conference standings and tournament scenario surrounding the Tigers remained the same going into Saturday's doubleheader at Central Oklahoma. The Tigers remain fourth in the standings, a half-game behind Missouri Southern for third in the standings, since Missouri Southern swept its Friday doubleheader with Northwest Missouri State. Missouri Western and Rogers State both remain a game behind the Tigers, since Missouri Western swept Pittsburg State and Rogers State swept Emporia State.

The one interesting change was Nebraska-Kearney taking one of two games at Central Oklahoma, which brings UCO back into a tie for first in the loss column with Central Missouri going into the doubleheader with FHSU on Saturday. This leaves the Tigers alive for the MIAA regular season championship, which is possible if FHSU sweeps UCO on Saturday, Central Missouri drops at least two of four games remaining, and Missouri Southern wins one or less against Missouri Western. Saturday will be crucial in deciding the top four spots in the MIAA standings. Not only will the Tigers be fighting for the potential of a conference title, but also fighting to hold off Missouri Western and Rogers State charging right behind in the standings.

Game 1: Fort Hays State 6, Newman 2

Fort Hays State had several opportunities to score over the first three innings, but the first contest of the day remained scoreless up until the fourth inning. That's when Sarah Tiffany broke through with a solo homer to give FHSU at 1-0 lead.

Sara Breckbill started a big rally for the Tigers in the fifth by leading off with a double. Kristen Reed then picked up an RBI by driving in Breckbill with a single. Jessica Espinoza followed with a single and Reed came around to score after an error by the Jet outfielder. Elise Capra capped a three-run inning for the Tigers by driving in a run on a groundout.

Michaelanne Nelson worked around baserunners in four of the first five innings in the pitching circle. The Jets tallied their only runs of the game in the sixth by leading off the inning with a single then home run to instantly cut the Tiger lead to 4-2. Nelson would go on to put out another early fire in the seventh inning following a pair of insurance runs by the Tigers that made the final margin four. The Tigers picked up the pair of runs in the seventh on a solo homer by Capra and an RBI single by Lily Sale.

The Tigers generated 10 hits in the game, led by Sale and Breckbill each with two. Nelson moved to 11-10 on the season with 12 strikeouts, a new career high for her at Fort Hays State. She scattered seven hits and walked one in her complete-game effort. Madison Dewitt threw a complete game for the Jets, but did not have any strikeouts.

Game 2: Fort Hays State 9, Newman 1

The Tigers scored a run in the second and third innings before really putting their foot on the gas with seven runs over the fourth and fifth innings to produce a 9-1 run-rule win after five innings. Newman picked up its only run in the fourth after FHSU opened with a 5-0 lead.

In the second inning, Katie Adler drove home Jessica Espinoza with an RBI single. An inning later, Espinoza picked up an RBI on a grounder to the right side.

In the fourth, Terran Caldwell was hit by a pitch, Sarah Tiffany singled, and Adler walked to set up a big inning with no outs. Lily Sale brought home the first run with a sacrifice fly, then Loren Beggs doubled home a pair of runs.

Back-to-back singles by Elise Capra and Caldwell and a Newman error gave the Tigers another prime run-scoring opportunity. Tiffany took advantage with a sacrifice fly RBI. With two outs, Adler drove home a run with an RBI single. Lily Sale doubled and Beggs walked to load the bases. Breckbill made the Jets pay with a 2-RBI double, extending FHSU's lead to 9-1.

Hailey Chapman had six strikeouts against the Jets in the first three innings before allowing her only run of the game in the fourth. She kept the Jets scoreless in the fifth to invoke the run-rule, getting her seventh strikeout to end the game. She allowed just three hits and walked one, moving to 12-7 on the year with the complete game win.

Both Beggs and Adler finished the game a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, helping the Tigers to 12 hits as a team, and both also drew one walk. Caldwell was also perfect at the dish in the game, 2-for-2 along with being hit by a pitch.