Pacific Softball: Tale Of Two Games Gives Pacific A Split Against Drake And Northern Illinois
At home against a pair of teams from the Mid-West, the Pacific softball team could only manage a split in action with Drake and Northern Illinois on Wednesday, March 15. Seeking revenge for an earlier season loss, the Tigers downed Drake, 2-1, to start the afternoon. However, Pacific would not get the sweep on the day as Northern Illinois roughed up the Tigers' pitching to take a 10-6, rain shortened, contest in six innings to hand Pacific just their second loss at home.
With the split the Tigers moved to 13-7 on the year while Drake, who defeated the Huskies earlier in the day to open play, 7-2, moved to 11-11. The Huskies improved to 8-9 on the year with their victory over the Tigers.
Led in game one by their freshmanTori Shepardin the circle, the Tigers pitched their way past the Bulldogs, rebounding from a loss to Drake at the Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, Ariz. earlier in the year. Against the Bulldogs the first time around, Pacific struggled to contain Drake's offense, allowing eight runs on 12 hits. That would not be the case in the rematch as Shepard dominated the Bulldog bats, allowing just one hit and facing just four batters over the minimum in seven complete innings pitched.
The lone blemish for Shepard came in the top of the first inning when Torey Craddock tomahawked a high 2-2 pitch over the left field wall, scoring what would be the Bulldogs' lone run of the contest on her first home run of the season. From there, Shepard would allow just three more runners to reach first as she walked one, hit another while the final Bulldog would reach on an error in the seventh.
With their pitcher shutting down the Bulldogs in the circle, the Tigers' offense would finally break through against Drake in the bottom of the fourth when Pacific notched a pair of runs to give Shepard the victory. Despite putting six runners on over the first three innings, including loading the bases in the third only to come away empty handed, the Tigers would get the big hit they were looking for from sophomoreMegan Allenas the slugging third baseman lifted her second home run of the season over the center field fence to lead off the fourth. Four batters later, and after loading the bases for the second time in the contest, the Tigers would pick up their much needed second run of the game on a ground ball by sophomoreMegan Hom. The RBI would prove to be the game-winner for Pacific as the Tigers would hold the lead over the final three innings of action to come away with the victory.
After getting a strong effort in the circle out of Shepard in game one, the Tigers looked to sophomoreNikki Armagostin game two against Northern Illinois. Facing the Huskies, the usually reliable Armagost struggled to completely find her groove as Northern Illinois picked away at the sophomore for five innings until breaking open the game in the sixth.
Early on, the Huskies tagged Aramgost for single runs in each of the first three innings, picking up their first two runs of the game on solo home runs. In the third, a two-out walk would come back to haunt the Tiger starter as the Huskies turned it into a run with a RBI double by Alex Wulbecker.
Despite the struggles in the circle, Armagost did not let it affect her bat as she tried to keep her side in the game and out in front of the Huskies with a solid 3-for-4 showing at the plate. In the fourth, Armagost would put Pacific up 6-3 with a two-out grand slam to right field, the first home run of the season for the sophomore. Armagost got the opportunity to help herself out at the plate after the Huskies intentionally walked juniorNicole Matsonto load the bases in front of Pacific's leading hitter. Earlier in the game Matson had doubled in Pacific's first two runs of the game to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the first.
The excitement of the grand slam would be short lived as the Huskies immediately responded with their fourth run of the game in the top of the fifth inning, loading the bases before a bloop single just over the head of freshmanTaylor Pettyat third allowed the run to score. Armagost would get out of the inning without further damage, but the writing was on the wall for what would be to come.
An inning later, the Huskies put together a six run rally to knock Armagost out of the game and take what would be the final lead of the day as in the seventh the game would be called due to rain. In the inning, Northern Illinois used four hits and three Tiger errors to mount their comeback and put Pacific down by four. Again, Wulbecker put the finishing touches on the rally for the Huskies as she laced her second double of the game down the left field line, this time scoring the final two runs of the game.
Prior to the game being called due to rain, the Tigers had given up two more runs in the top of the seventh, but had also scored a run and had a runner at third with only one out in the bottom of the inning. Due to the rain, the game reverted back to the final completed inning, the sixth, which posted the final score as 10-6.
For Armagost, the sophomore went 5.1 inning giving up nine hits and eight runs, five earned, while striking out four and walking four to fall to 5-5 on the year. In relief of Whitney Owens, Morgan Bittner picked up the victory with two innings of one hit relief as she rebounded from a tough loss to Drake earlier in the day. Owens finished the game with four innings pitched, seven hits and six runs against.
The Tigers will be back in action at the Judi Garman Tournament in Fullerton, Calif. from March 18-20. Pacific opens play with contests against No. 9 Oklahoma (11:00 am) and No. 6 Arizona State (3:30 pm).