Ryan Prickett, Sports Information Director
HAYS – Fort Hays State Softball split a conference doubleheader for the second straight day, this time with Northwest Missouri State on Saturday (Apr. 15). Like Friday, the Tigers took game one by one run, 2-1, but then fell in the second game 7-4. FHSU is now 13-37 overall, 6-18 in the MIAA, while NWMSU went to 24-16 overall, 13-7 in the MIAA.
Game 1: Fort Hays State 2, Northwest Missouri State 1
Game one of the doubleheader blazed along, finishing in just 57 minutes. Hailey Chapman came out on the good end of a 2-1 pitcher’s duel, as the defense behind her played excellent.
Northwest Missouri State pitcher Taylor Blackford peppered the strike zone consistently throughout the game and had a perfect game through four innings with the Bearcats up 1-0. In the fifth, though, she ran into trouble by hitting Veronica Knittig to start the inning. Claudia Vazquez pinch ran and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tess Gray. With two outs, Bailey Boxberger broke up both the no-hitter and shutout with a rocket RBI double over the center fielder’s head. A batter later, Kylie Strand untied the game with an RBI single to left center field.
That was all Hailey Chapman needed in the circle as she kept the Bearcats off balance enough throughout the contest. Despite giving up two well-placed doubles and a run in the first inning, Chapman allowed just three hits the rest of the way for her eighth win of the season in a complete game effort. She walked just one and struck out two in her complete game effort.
Blackford moved to 11-5 on the season with the loss for NWMSU. Other than Fort Hays State’s two timely hits in the fifth, she allowed just three hits overall, while striking out three. She threw just 49 pitches for the game.
Game 2: Northwest Missouri State 7, Fort Hays State 4
Most of the scoring in game two occurred late as the Bearcats and Tigers were tied 1-1 through four innings. NWMSU took the lead 2-1 in the fifth on Fort Hays State’s first error of the entire weekend. Lily Salelooked a runner back to third on a ground ball, but threw wide of the first base bag, allowing the run to come into score.
Hailey Chapman got the nod in the pitching circle once again after throwing 88 pitches in game one. She continued to hold the Bearcats relatively quiet until the sixth inning when she did not get the benefit of a couple borderline pitches. It looked as though she might have had strike three to the first batter of the inning, but was ruled a ball and the batter proceeded to double. Later in the inning with the bases loaded and two outs, she fell behind in the count 3-1 and did not get the benefit of a borderline call on the inside corner, walking in a run. Following that, Kaitlyn Weis doubled in three more runs and instantly made the score 6-1 in favor of NWMSU.
The Tigers did not go down without a fight and took advantage of two Northwest Missouri error in the bottom of the sixth to plate three runs. Bailey Kennedy singled home two runs and Lily Sale singled home one to make it 6-4.
The Bearcats picked up an insurance run in the seventh with a triple and single to lead off the inning, but the Tigers still threatened in the bottom of the seventh. FHSU batters were not fooled at all by Weis, who relieved Holly Posegate the final two innings. Veronica Knittig led off the inning with a double, but well placed fielders helped NWMSU escape trouble in the seventh. Tess Gray hit a missile back up the middle snared out of the air by Weis in the pitching circle for a tough-luck first out. Bailey Boxberger grounded a ball up the middle and just beat the off balance throw of the second baseman at first to put runners on at first and third. Collette West, who had an RBI single early in the game, tagged a ball on a line to right field, but lucky for NWMSU it was right at the fielder for the second out. Kylie Strand then grounded out to short to end the game.
Posegate picked up the win for the Bearcats, moving to 10-6 on the season. She allowed one run on five hits with one strikeout. Weis allowed three unearned runs in relief for the Bearcats on four hits. Chapman took the loss for FHSU, throwing her second complete game of the day. She allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits and four walks with a strikeout. Sale, Knittig, and Boxberger all had two hits in the game.
The Tigers play a non-conference doubleheader with Newman University on Wednesday (Apr. 19) in Hays. Start time is set for 3 pm.