Garett McCullough Sports Writer
After a winless four-game home stand to begin April, the Gorillas softball team was able to win one game on its three-game road-trip this past week. After two losses each to Northwest Missouri and Nebraska-Omaha last weekend, Pitt State took the first game of two against Newman in convincing fashion on April 4. They ended their road trip in a loss to Missouri Southern the next day.
Pitt State had the task of opening the month of April against the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats, who led the conference in wins with a current record of 8-2. The first game stayed tied at 1-1 into the top of the 10th inning when the Bearcats took the lead. The Gorillas came back in their half of the 10th and scored one run of their own, pushing the game to another inning. In the 11th, an all-too familiar event happened.
After one error and two hits, four unearned runs crossed the plate for the Bearcats, who were able to hold off the Gorillas in the bottom of the innings, winning the game 6-3. Tiffany Brown was credited with the loss, but pitched 11 innings, giving up only two earned runs.
Pitt State got on the board first in the second game with a run in the first inning, but it would not be enough. The Bearcats scored in the second, fourth and fifth innings for a final score of 6-2. Samantha Grove took the loss after giving up six runs on five hits in five innings of work. Erin Eddy continued to stay hot, extending her hit streak to eight games. Kreslee Ketcham found some green as she put her lone hit over the left-center fence.
In the second home double-header of the weekend, the Gorillas faced the Omaha-Nebraska Mavericks with a current conference record of 7-1. The Gorillas lost the first game in five innings 12-0, and they lost the second game 7-5 after a rough start.
Brown took the loss in the first game after giving up five earned runs in four innings. Hilary Erbert came in during the fifth and gave up seven runs in her lone inning of work. The game ended two innings early and Eddy was unable to crack into the hit column, ending her hit streak at eight games.
Grove started the second game, but did not last long after giving up six earned runs in 1.1 innings. She was replaced by Jessica Barnes, who gave up one run throughout the rest of the game. Pitt State battled its way back from a 4-0 first inning deficit to have the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh with only one out. The Mavericks made a pitching change to Lindsey Slocum, who sat down the next two batters and was credited the save.
On April 4 the Gorillas traveled to Wichita for a double-header against the Newman Jets. After allowing the Jets to score in the first Pitt State decided to use what had plagued them all season, the big inning, and use it to their advantage. A five-run third inning and a seven-run seventh inning ensured the victory as Pitt State won 15-2, breaking their seven-game skid. Eddy went 3-5 with a double and Amanda DeCastro made her eighth homerun of the season. Brown was on the mound and earned the win, making her 5-10 on the season.
The Gorillas dug themselves into an early hole in the second game of the afternoon, allowing three runs in the first inning. The Gorillas would battle back, but with the tying run at second in the bottom of the seventh, Ketcham grounded out to first to end the game with a score of 6-7.
“Being a clutch hitter is really difficult,” Coach Annette Shepherd said. “And Ketcham is clutch 50 percent of the time, which is really hard to do.”
Barnes began the game on the mound, but gave up six runs, five earned, and was replaced by Grove in the fourth. Barnes received the loss and is now 1-2 on the season. The hitting showed up in both games, but the defense was lacking
“We hit the ball well both games,” Shepherd said. “But in both games we were a little disappointed with the pitching.
The following day the ladies traveled to Joplin to face the Missouri Southern Tigers. The Gorillas lost this game 3-4 and, like the previous game, gave up an unearned run. Pitt State rallied in the seventh for the third time in the last four games only to fall short once again as Ketcham left Eddy stranded at second base. Grove Started for the Gorillas, taking the loss and falling to 2-9 on the season. Pitt State lost two games in a row by one run while allowing one unearned run and that, according to Shepherd, really gets into the psyche of the young pitchers.
“That error we make always puts a runner in scoring position with less than two outs,” Shepherd said. “If it were to be an error to put a runner on first, we could handle that.”
Pitt State has a pair of home double-headers this weekend. The first against Washburn, with a conference-worst 1-7 record, begins at three on Friday. On Saturday they face Fort Hayes State, who are 3-7 in conference play, at noon.