Don Vieth, Director of Athletics Communications
OKLAHOMA CITY – Northeastern State softball survives to fight another day after rallying past No. 2 seeded Central Missouri for five runs in the final two innings to knock off the Jennies 5-3 on Thursday evening.
The win came after a forgettable 12-1 run-ruled loss to No. 3 seed Central Oklahoma in the MIAA Tournament opener.
Northeastern State was limited to a pair of hits with their lone run coming in the top of the fifth on a sac fly. Central Oklahoma slugged out 17 hits with five runs in the second and a seven run fourth.
The RiverHawks and Jennies were locked in a pitcher’s duel in the elimination game as NSU starter Sydney Balderrama cruised through three frames before running into trouble in the fourth inning. A leadoff single and walk put two UCM runners on base. Balderrama worked out of the jam thanks to a diving catch by center fielder Jessica Boone to end the frame.
The Jennies broke the tie in the fifth inning, two singles, hit batter and walk led to three runs and a 3-0 lead after five innings of play.
The RiverHawks comeback started in the sixth inning. Haley Acrey made the Jennies pay for a leadoff walk to Paige Gann. Acrey blasted her eight home run of the year to cut the deficit to 3-2. Kelsey Harmon tripled and scored later in the inning as Kaleigh Hinkle‘s single tied the game at 3-3 heading to the seventh inning.
In the final frame, Gann singled to right center and walks from Addison Elbon and Acrey to load the bases for the RiverHawks with only one out. The Jennies recorded the second out of the frame as Elbon was thrown out on a close play at the plate. With the bases still juiced, an error on the UCM shortstop plated Gann giving the RiverHawks a 4-3 lead. Boone followed the error with a single to left field to plate another run giving NSU an important two run lead at 5-3.
The Jennies did not go quietly, with back to back singles to open the seventh. Gail Young (15-14) and the RiverHawks defense retired the final three batters to advance to the second day of action.
With the split the RiverHawks go to 30-25 this season.
Northeastern State will go on to face Northwest Missouri on Friday at 11 a.m. inside Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.