April 1, 2011
Two more wins for first-place Bearcats
PITTSBURG, Kan.-It took 18 innings, but Northwest Missouri State's softball team remained alone in first place following a doubleheader sweep of Pittsburg State Friday at PSU Softball Complex.
Northwest pitcher Jenna Creger pitched all 11 innings and didn't allow an earned run in a 6-3 Bearcat win in game one. Rachael Schmitz hit a three-run homer in a 6-2 Northwest win in game two.
The Bearcats (17-7, 6-0 MIAA) have won six in a row - all in MIAA play and all on the road - and 13 of their last 15 overall. Since the start of March, Northwest has out-scored its opponents 92-36. The team is batting .320 and has an ERA of 1.51. Creger is 8-1 in that span with four shutouts and an ERA of 0.69.
Pittsburg State (7-18, 1-3) managed 11 hits in 18 innings against Northwest pitching and lost its fourth and fifth games in a row. The Gorillas have been out-scored 18-5 in three losses to the Bearcats this season.
Creger battled Tiffany Brown in a pitchers duel that remained 1-1 through nine innings. Both teams scored a run in the first. Creger allowed two fourth-inning singles from innings 2-9 and retired 15 consecutive hitters at one point. Brown stranded a Northwest runner at third in six of the first nine innings. The two pitchers combined to throw 346 pitches in the contest.
The international tiebreaker rule (teams begin the inning with a runner on second base) was enforced at the start of the 10th inning which is when the offense caught up. Kristen Hessel gave Northwest a 2-1 lead with an RBI double in the top half. Erin Eddy answered with an RBI single in the bottom half.
Northwest broke the game open with four runs off Brown in the 11th. Lauren Chatigny's first hit of the game made it 3-2. Hailee Hendricks had an RBI double to cap the inning and make it 6-2. Hendricks was 3-for-6 in game one and finished a home run shy of the cycle.
Creger (10-4) closed the game with back-to-back strikeouts to give her 11 - a career best and the second double-digit strikeout performance this season. It was the first time she had thrown more than seven innings in a single game.
Pittsburg State scored another first-inning run in game two to take its first and only lead of the twin bill. Schmitz quickly erased it with a three-run blast off Samantha Grove in Northwest's next at bat. It was the only hit of the day for Schmitz who hit her second homer of the season and sixth of her career.
Kreslee Ketcham's home run in the bottom of the third closed the gap to 3-2, but Northwest answered with an RBI single by Kit Daugherty in the fourth and tacked on two more runs in the fifth. Morgan Brunmeier (7-2) didn't allow a hit past the fourth inning to earn the win.
Daugherty had two hits Friday, but in separate games to move her hitting streak to 17 games. Her ninth-inning triple extended the streak in game one. The single in the fourth was her only hit of game two. Daugherty has hit safely in 22 of 24 games this season and leads the team with a .411 average.
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