A few days after being swept in a Southland Conference series on the road, the Sam Houston State softball team really needed a big boost on its home turf over the weekend.
And on Sunday, the squad delivered with a thrilling 4-3 victory in the bottom of the seventh inning to take two of a three-game series with Nicholls State at the Bearkat Softball Complex.
The Kats improved to 5-4 in SLC play and stretched their overall record to 12-16. The Colonels fell to 3-6 in league action and 7-18 on the season.
“It just seems like right now, things have been going against us, and we haven’t been getting the calls,” SHSU head coach Bob Brock said. “I think that sometimes that’s just attributed to not getting things done offensively. Right now, the way things have been going, we will take anything we can get.”
The Bearkats have struggled recently with production at the plate with runners in scoring position. After taking the first game of the series 3-0 mainly because of Nicholls State fielding errors Saturday, SHSU left six runners on base in a 5-2 loss in Game 2.
But that changed Sunday when it mattered most.
With the game knotted at 3-3 heading into the final frame, second baseman Lauren Boone led the bottom of the inning off with a lead-off walk. Danyelle Hines followed with a sacrifice to move Boone over to second. After a fly out to right, Tanya Hooser came to the plate with two outs and ripped a game-winning single to right to score Boone and give the Bearkats the series advantage.
It was Hooser’s second hit of the game that led to an RBI. The sophomore also knocked in Boone for the first run of the ball game in the first inning. Stephanie Mosley also came up with a big hit in the second, when she ripped a line drive off the pitcher that scored two more for a quick 3-0 lead.
“I think we were a little more relaxed today. We were so uptight (Saturday),” Mosley said. “We were trying so hard, but the fact that we came out more relaxed today did it for us.”
Shalayne Blythe took the circle for the Kats and picked up her second win of the series and improved to 7-9 on the season. She scattered seven hits in seven innings and gave up three earned runs on three solo home runs.
Blythe has been battling tendinitis in her pitching arm for most of the season, which has limited her practice time in between games. Brock said after the game that she is getting healthier, which is good news with freshman Brandi Crnkovic sidelined indefinitely with a finger injury.
“Shalayne is getting a little closer to being well,” the coach said. “I think that she is going to be cleared to do some practice pens next week. But I give her a lot of credit because she is having to pitch not 100 percent. She said after the game that nobody likes to give up three home runs, but a win is a win and she agreed with that.”
This weekend series with Nicholls might be exactly what the Bearkats needed to get past some of the misfortunes that have plagued them this season such as injuries and tough breaks at the plate.
SHSU had its opportunities to sweep all three games, but a questionable call with the bases loaded that preceded a inning-ending double play and a fantastic over-the-shoulder catch to rob a potential game-tying extra base hit spoiled Game 2.
Maybe Hooser’s game winner is the start of things coming around.
“Finally getting a hit to win a ballgame in the bottom of the seventh usually has the tendency to get things turned around,” Brock said. “I think that we got ourselves in situations when we needed to do the little things, and it just hasn’t been happening. We are a good hitting team but things haven’t happened for us yet. We are hitting the ball good, but some of them aren’t falling. Sooner or later, that will come around.”
The Kats will try to continue the spark this weekend when they travel to Louisiana-Monroe for a three-game conference clash with the Lady Indians. The series begins with a doubleheader Saturday at 2 p.m.
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