Curtis Meyer reporter
The Gorillas softball team had a productive week, climbing back to .500 in MIAA play by taking 3 of 4 games in what was their last home games of the season. Facing Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri, the Gorillas can vie for a postseason tournament berth.
“This weekend the goal was at least 3-1, at the least. We did that, so we feel like we put ourselves in a good position to make the tournament,” said head coach Jenny Fuller.
Starting the week on Friday against the Griffins of Missouri Western, Pitt State took both games in tight contests, winning both double headers.
The Gorillas got on the board early, with freshman Heather Arnett stealing home in the first. Two innings later, the Gorillas got another run in the bottom of the third with Arnett flashing her speed as she stole home for a second time.
Missouri Western scored a lone homer in the fourth, but Pitt State responded with junior Kadyn Trochim hitting a sacrifice fly and junior Gracie Sullivan with an RBI single to close out the inning. Missouri Western would score once more on another homer as Pitt State won 4-2.
The next game, it was Pitt State who was coming from behind. Both teams were scoreless through 4 innings, but Missouri Western broke through in the fifth. Down three runs, Pitt State had work to do and only two innings left to do it.
It was Arnett’s speed that helped the Gorillas score their first, reaching home after a wild pitch in the sixth inning. Still down 1-3, the Gorillas needed to score at least two more runs in the seventh to prevent the loss. Senior Kori Stonestreet hit the first run for the Gorillas with an RBI single, then Arnett hit another RBI single to tie. Junior Paxtyn Hayes hit the game winner, with another single RBI to walk it off.
Following this impressive win, the Gorillas faced Northwest Missouri’s Bearcats on Saturday. The Gorillas bats went cold to start, with the Bearcats building a five-run lead by the fifth. Despite a 2 RBI single by Sullivan, the Gorillas could not overcome the early deficit, losing 2-5.
In between games, this year’s non returning seniors were recognized on the field and presented with special jerseys and Pitt State embossed coolers. Players and their families posed for a photo as the crowd applauded them.
“It’s bittersweet. I’m happy to move on with my life but at the same time these have been my sisters and my friends for four years. It’s a hard chapter to close in the book but another one will open soon. You never want a chapter to end, so we might as well keep it going long as we can,” said Senior Kianna Pellegrino.
This gave Pitt State some motivation, as they were able to find their offense in the first inning. Hayes hit a homer in the first, scoring two runs to give Pitt State a 2-0 lead. In the fifth, Senior Taylor Lambert scored on a wild pitch, followed by Arnett with another run on a wild pitch.
The Bearcats would not go down easily, scoring four runs in the sixth to tie the game. The Gorillas answered on a hit by Arnett, which junior Kyndall Davis ran in after a throwing error by the second basemen. Pellegrino padded on the Gorillas lead with a 2 RBI double, making it 7-4. The Bearcats were held scoreless in the seventh to secure the victory.
“It’s huge, because we’re .500 in conference and that gives us a very good shot at sliding into the conference tournament, so if we play really well this week and get to work, we will easily get into the tournament,” said Hayes.
It was a good weekend for the Pitt State pitching staff, with junior Hannah Harrison, sophomore Bree Sexton, and Freshman Madeline McCall each picking up a win, holding the opposing teams to 4 runs and below in the three wins.
The Gorillas will turn their attention to their final week of the regular season, where they will face the University of Central Oklahoma and Newman University away. The Gorillas are now 26-18 overall and 11-11 in conference play.