Shepherd Softball Takes one from West Virginia State

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The Rams (33-18, 19-11 MEC) split with the Yellow Jackets (24-28, 10-20 MEC) of West Virginia State at home Saturday afternoon. The Yellow Jackets controlled the Rams’ bats in game one, winning by a 3-1 score. In game two, the Rams bounced back and found enough offense to complement their strong pitching, winning by a 3-2 score.

In game one, aside from a fourth-inning solo-shot homerun by senior third/first baseman Alexandra Witt, the Rams could not find any ground against the impressive pitching display of the Yellow Jackets’ starting pitcher Emily Thompson (W, 8-12).

Thompson (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 SO) really left her mark on the game for the Yellow Jackets. Surrendering just two hits in the contest, it was clear that the Rams’ bats were frustrated to say the least throughout the course of the game.

The Yellow Jackets gave Thompson enough run support to secure the victory. Senior starting pitcher Tara Hanson (L, 16-5) did not have as good of an outing, but allowed just two runs (one earned) in two innings of work.

A double down the left field line by utility player Zoey Carte gave the Yellow Jackets a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning, as catcher Madison Rafuson came in to score.

What ended up being the difference in the game was the two unearned runs the Yellow Jackets scored in the top of the third inning. Outfielder Brookelyn Hale got to first base on a throwing error by the Rams’ third baseman, giving enough time for shortstop Micca Mirabella to score to increase the lead to 2-0.

Catcher/infielder Brittany Allison also reached first base on a throwing error by sophomore pitcher Lori Sturgill, which made the lead 3-0.

Combined with an offense that could not get going, these errors largely contributed to the Rams’ 3-1 loss in game one.

In game two, the Rams offense finally woke up a little bit, with senior pitcher/outfielder Paige Buckworth’s RBI single to the Yellow Jackets’ shortstop, which brought in junior utility player Sarah North to give the Rams a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

Then, in the top of the fifth inning, the Rams hit two consecutive Yellow Jackets’ batters with the bases loaded to give the Yellow Jackets a 2-1 lead. Just like that, the Rams had to start thinking about what happened in game one.

However, Witt countered with a sacrifice fly to right field in the bottom of the fifth inning that provided ample time for freshman utility player Bailee Jackson to score to tie the game at 2-2.

The game would end in a walk off for the Rams in the bottom of the seventh inning, Sophomore shortstop/outfielder Kaitlyn Konopka blasted a clutch single through the right side that sophomore second baseman/shortstop Morgan Cox converted into the winning run.

In the 3-2 win, junior starting pitcher Kaitlin Munda pitched 4.2 innings, allowed two runs on one hit, walked three, and struck out one. She did just enough on a day where the Rams’ offense was unable to find much traction.

Hanson reached a few milestones with her performance Saturday afternoon. Hanson moved past Nichole Pitcock in innings pitched (544.0) and career appearances (109).

The Rams have a four-game lead in the Mountain East Conference North division standings, but face a tough task Sunday afternoon when they host Charleston (34-15, 22-8) in a double-header that starts at 1 p.m. This game will also be special for the seniors, as it is Senior Day.

Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at abrack02@rams.shepherd.edu