Photo Courtesy: UCA Athletics (Bradley Widding)
Lafayette, La. (UCA) - The Central Arkansas softball team returned to action with a pair of games in the 2014 Ragin' Cajun Invitational on Saturday. The Bears opened the day with a 10-8 victory over Valparaiso, before falling 7-0 to fourth-ranked Michigan.
After yesterday's 4-3 walk-off win against Valpo, Central Arkansas (3-6) and the Crusaders faced off in a rematch that featured significantly more offense, as the teams combined for 18 runs on 23 hits. Central Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, as shortstop Hayley Parker hit the first home run of her Central Arkansas career. The Crusaders (2-5) evened the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the frame, as second baseman Amanda Wisniewski launched a homer of her own.
Central Arkansas took the lead for good in the top of the third, scoring five runs on four hits and a pair of Valpo errors to take a 6-1 lead. After a lineout started the inning, the Bears loaded the bases on singles from Taylor Dear and Parker, and a walk from Ashley Boswell. An error off the bat of Amy Gunnells plated Dear and Parker and left the Bears with runners at first and second. Briana Whisenhunt doubled down the left field line to score Boswell and push the lead to 4-1. Sam Forrest singled to left field, driving in Gunnells, and Whisenhunt raced around to score when the Valpo left fielder was unable to field the ball cleanly, extending the lead to five runs.
The Crusaders responded with three runs on three hits in their half of the third, cutting the Central Arkansas lead to 6-4. The teams each plated another run in the fourth inning, and Valpo added another in the fifth to pull to within 7-6.
The Bears struck for three runs in the top of the sixth thanks to four hits and an error. Boswell singled through the left side and Gunnells drew a walk to get the rally started. A flyout allowed the runners to advance before Forrest collected an infield single to plate pinch runner Tylor Dodson. With runners on the corners and two outs, Gunnells and Forrest successfully executed a double steal. Sarah Bigej singled and Forrest came around to score on an error.
Valpo tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring a pair of runs on two hits and an error, but a strikeout ended the game with the tying run on first base.
Ciara Clampitt got the start in the circle for Central Arkansas allowing four runs on five hits over 2.1 innings. Kylee Studioso (2-2) earned the win in relief, throwing three innings and allowing a pair of runs while striking out two crusaders. Kayla Gomness earned the save on the back 1.2 innings during which she allowed one earned run and struck out two.
After a short break, the Bears returned to the field for a game against the Michigan Wolverines, the fourth-ranked team in the nation. The Wolverines (6-2) jumped out to an early lead, courtesy of Sierra Lawrence, who hit a first inning grand slam to put Michigan up 4-0 in the first inning. The Wolverines added a pair of runs in the third inning and tacked on one more in the sixth.
Offensively, the Bears managed just two base runners in the game, thanks to a single off the bat of Whisenhunt and a walk from Bigej.
Gomness (0-2) got the start, allowing five earned runs in 2.1 innings of work. Kylee Studioso worked 4.2 innings of relief, allowing an unearned run and striking out two Wolverines.
Central Arkansas hits the field against tomorrow afternoon at 2:00. The Bears will play the twentieth-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns.