Softball team sweeps first conference game against USF

The SMSU Softball team began their conference play with a strong start on Tue. against the Sioux Falls Cougars. Junior Madison Krog gave the Mustangs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second by slamming a home run over the right-center field fence.

The Cougars couldn’t manage to follow Krog’s lead, nonetheless get any of senior Athena Golling’s pitches past the infield. Her first, second, and third base teammates backed her up by picking up everything the three batters tried to lay down.

When the Mustangs came back to bat in the third inning, their lead only grew. junior Emma Grote stole second after hitting a single, and was brought home by a sophomore Bailey Johnson’s double. Following that, junior Kali Tomlinson hit a single down right field to give Johnson a chance to run home. By the end of the third inning, the Mustangs were up 3-0.

The Cougars had a different mindset during their next at bat. Their second and third batters got on base with singles to the left side. Their third batter sent a single to sophomore Madysson Schliinz at shortstop who made a throwing error during her attempt to get the runner out at second. This gave Sioux Falls an opportunity to score, which they took. The score was now 3-1.

The Mustangs held the Cougars to just a run during the rest of the game, securing their first conference win. Golling struck out three more batters that game, completing her seventh game of the season.

In game two, Sioux Falls came back with a vengeance. They started their first at bat against Senior Shelby Crank by earning three runs right away due to a homer up the middle. When the Mustangs came to the plate at the bottom of the first, they couldn’t follow. Grote, senior Abby Decker, and Johnson all hit grounders to the infield and were thrown out.

The score stayed the same until the bottom of the third when SMSU was up to bat again. Junior Kaylee Hentges drew a walk, but was thrown out at second due to fielder’s choice by Schliinz’s single. Schliinz didn’t stay at first long, Grote came up to the plate and hit a triple to center field, bringing Schliinz home. Decker laid down a sacri- fice (SAC) bunt and brought Grote home. Johnson struck out swinging, which ended the inning at 3-2, Cougars up.

Junior Megan Cull came in at the start of the fourth to replace Crank. She struck out her first two batters that inning; one went swinging, the other looking. The third was taken care of by firstyear Lileya Kebos in right field with a flier.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Mustangs scored again. Hentges, was up again, laid down a double. She advanced to third after Grote hit a single to short stop. Grote stole second, leaving the door open for two runs. Decker hit a flyball out to centerfield, but earned herself an RBI as Hentges tagged up and scored. Johnson hit a triple to center field, running Grote in. The Mustangs were now up 4-3.

Cull fanned the Cougar’s next batter, sending her to the dugout as she struck out swinging. Schliinz and Kebos again earned the second and third outs, both by popflies.

In their last at bats, both the Mustangs and the Cougars weren’t able to get anybody else across home plate. The Mustangs again won the game with a 4-3 win, earning themselves a sweep in their conference opener.

The Mustangs hope to continue down the winning path as they play again on Mar. 30 at home versus Minnesota Crookston. Their games are at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.