Softball team has a fight of felines

The Sioux Fall Cougars and the ’Cats traded a win and a loss

Photo by Rachel Vogt

Rachel Vogt, Staff Writer

The WSC softball team split their doubleheader against the University of Sioux Falls Cougars, losing their first game 9-6 and winning the second with a final score of 10-7.

Junior first baseman Emily Chandler said they knew the games were going to be tough.

“They’re a great team and we always seem to go head to head with them,” said Chandler. “We knew we had to come out energetic and shut them down early.”

Sioux Falls scored single runs in the first and second inning to take an early 2-0 lead.

Wayne State responded in the bottom of the second inning, scoring five runs on two hits. Junior Baylee Rial drew a bases loaded walk to bring in the first Wildcat run of the game. Chandler followed Rial with a grand slam over the centerfield fence to give WSC a 5-2 lead.

The fourth inning saw the Cougars chip away at Wayne State’s lead. USF scored two runs off an RBI double and single to cut the score to 5-4 in favor of the ‘Cats.

Sioux Falls used a solo home run to knot the game 5-5 in the fifth. USF took their first lead since the second inning in the sixth, using solo home runs from Emily Hove and Breanna Black to push the score to 7-5.

Senior Jordyn Breitbarth helped the Wildcats trim the deficit to 7-6 in the bottom of the sixth, belting a home run to centerfield, her seventh of the season.

The Cougars added two insurance runs in the seventh. Sioux Falls hit their fourth home run of the game, this one by the Kerrigan Hoshaw.

WSC could not respond in the bottom half of the inning as the Wildcats fell to the Cougars 9-6.

“In the first game, their bats overcame ours, unfortunately, so we knew our defense had to be on our A game all the way around, all seven innings for the second game,” said Chandler. “Our bats took a little while to wake up, we weren’t being as selective as we should have been up at the plate. Swinging at balls and then watching strikes go by. The umpire had a small zone and barely called anything and we weren’t as patient as we should’ve been. In game two however, we became more selective and waited until we got pitches we knew we could hit and we did.”

The second game saw WSC overcome an early deficit to rally for a 10-7 win to earn a split.

Sioux Falls jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning.

Wayne State responded by scoring three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Senior Katelyn Wobken had the big hit of the inning, blasting a three-run home run over the centerfield fence.

The Wildcats pushed across two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. WSC used a 2-RBI double by freshman Ashley Hernandez to score junior Alyx Hagen and senior Rachel Shumaker in the fourth.

WSC capitalized on two Cougar fielding errors in the fifth to extend their lead to 7-4. Chandler plated Breithbarth and Rial when Sioux Falls could not field a ball hit to second.

Wayne State tacked on another three runs in the fifth, capitalizing on yet another Cougar error. Wobken singled to third base and was able to score Hernandez when the second baseman could not come up with the ball at first. Rial followed with a two-run double to centerfield that scored Breitbarth and Wobken.

“The defense in the second game was a lot more on top of it,” said Chandler. “Our pitchers were hitting their spots and keeping them in the ballpark and when they hit, our defense did what we knew how and got the outs we were capable of getting.”

Sioux Falls showed life in the sixth, trimming the WSC lead to 10-7. Sydney Nieveen hit a three-run home run to centerfield, her second home run of the day.

“We knew we were the better team and I believe that losing the first game gave us a little more fire we needed to overcome and win the second game,” said Chandler.

Freshman Maddie Moser closed out the seventh, forcing the Cougars into a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save.

Wayne State closed out the game with the 10-7 victory to earn the split.

The Wildcats were then scheduled to face Northern State and MSU Moorhead in Wayne over the weekend, but the games were cancelled due to the poor weather conditions.

“The cancellations of these games are super unfortunate and frustrating; however, this won’t change how we have been preparing for games,” said Chandler. “We will practice how we have been and take Upper Iowa, Crookston and Bemidji just like we have prepared for all the other games thus far. We will be working a lot on our communication in the field at practice in order to prepare for these upcoming games. Communication plays a huge role and is key in coming out on top in games.”

The Wildcats will be facing Upper Iowa in Fayette, Iowa on Tuesday and Minnesota Crookston and Bemidji State in Wayne on Saturday and Sunday.

The Wildcats contests against the University of Nebraska-Kearney have been postponed, so the ’Cats are now preparing to face Augustana for their home opener.

“We need to come out hot and know that we can compete,” said Hix. “We’re excited to get on our field.”

Wayne State will face the Vikings in a 1 p.m. and a 3 p.m. contest on Tuesday in Wayne.