Feb. 26, 2011
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -
The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack softball team suffered a pair of heart-breaking defeats Saturday in the UAB Magic City Classic. SFA fell victim to missed opportunities in a 2-0 loss to UAB then saw a late lead evaporate in the seventh inning in a 7-6 defeat against Eastern Kentucky.
The pair of losses moves SFA to 2-13 on the year. In Saturday's two games combined, the Ladyjacks stranded 22 runners and were defeated by a total margin of just three runs.
In the first game, SFA outhit UAB but failed to take advantage of four Blazer errors and left nine runners stranded. Of the nine runners left on, five were marooned in scoring position, including a bases-loaded situation in the top of the fifth inning.
Ladyjack starter Carlie Thomas held UAB hitless through the first three innings with a hit batsman in the third representing the Blazers' only presence on the bases. But UAB broke through with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Kayla Orr reached with one out on a fielding error in the outfield and took second on the play. The next batter, Kate Armstrong, singled to move Orr to third. She then scored on a squeeze play.
UAB knocked Thomas from the game in the fifth, when the Blazers loaded the bases with one out on a single, walk and a fielder's choice that didn't yield an out. Monika Covington came on in relief. The first batter she faced, Orr, singled to left, giving the Blazers a 2-0 lead. Covington escaped further harm with a ground ball to third and a fly ball to center to end the inning. She held UAB scoreless in the sixth, but the Ladyjacks couldn't put any runs up in the final two innings.
SFA had a hit in four of the first five innings but couldn't get the ones it needed with runners in scoring position. Lacy Liles led off the second with a single to right-center, and Haleigh Willis followed by reaching on an error. They would end up on third and second, respectively, but were stranded by a strikeout.
In the fifth, Krista Hallmark reached on an error with one out, then Amber Price singled. After a pitching change and a strikeout, Elizabeth Arana drew a walk to load the bases, but UAB escaped with another strikeout.
Thomas (2-4) took the hard-luck loss despite giving up just one earned run in 4.1 innings of work. She allowed two hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Covington pitched 1.2 shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out two.
Price, Lauren Luetge, Arana, Liles and Hallmark each singled once.
Game 2 was an even tougher loss to take. After falling behind early to Eastern Kentucky, SFA rallied and took a 6-5 lead into the top of the seventh. But the Colonels got two runs in the final inning to snatch the win and hand SFA its fifth straight loss.
The Ladyjacks left a season-high 13 runners aboard in the second game. SFA was 0-for-6 with the bases loaded and went 1-for-8 with a runner on third and less than two out.
The Colonels grabbed a 5-0 lead in the top of the second thanks to three hits and three Ladyjack errors. All five runs came with two out and all five were unearned, as a fielding error extended what would have been a four-at-bat inning. SFA compounded its trouble with two more errors in the frame, putting itself in a big hole early.
The Ladyjacks held Eastern Kentucky scoreless after that, though, and chipped away at the lead with single runs in the second, third and fourth innings.
In the bottom of the second, Willis was hit by a pitch to lead off. She took second when Charlotte Singleton drew a walk, then Hallmark got a base hit to center, scoring Willis. Singleton and Hallmark moved to third and second, respectively, on a wild pitch, but SFA stranded them there with a strikeout, ground ball and a foul pop.
The Ladyjacks made it a 5-2 game in the third, when Hallmark drew a bases-loaded walk to score Cadie Weaver. Weaver had led off with a single. A Liles base knock and a walk by Willis had loaded the bases for Hallmark. Eastern Kentucky got out of the inning without further damage when Nicole Wooten lined out to third.
In the fourth, Price drew a leadoff walk. Luetge followed with a single to center and both runners moved into scoring position on a ground ball to the right side by Weaver. Arana then came through with a base hit up the middle, scoring Price. But Luetge was caught in a rundown on a throw behind her at third for the second out, then Liles lined back to the pitcher to end the inning.
The Ladyjacks loaded the bases with one out on a walk and two infield singles in the fifth, but came away with nothing, thanks to a strikeout and ground ball.
SFA finally broke through in the sixth. Weaver led off with an infield single, then Arana was hit by a pitch. After a pop-up on the infield, Willis was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Eastern Kentucky got the second out on strikes, but Weaver scored on a wild pitch, and Arana came home on a throwing error by the Colonels' catcher. Willis wound up on third and trotted home for the go-ahead run when Hallmark singled to left.
But the Colonels got a two-run homer from Ashley Dollins with one out in the seventh to retake the lead.
Luetge got a one-out single to right for SFA in the bottom half, and she took second on a wild pitch, but the Ladyjacks were unable to bring her home and extend the game.
Covington (0-8) took the loss after working 4.2 innings in relief. Dollins' homer accounted for the only two runs she gave up after holding the Colonels to four hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Angela White started the game for SFA. She was pulled after giving up three hits and five walks in 2.1 innings.
Hallmark was 3-for-3 with three RBI. Luetge went 3-for-5, and Weaver was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Liles and Wooten were each 1-for-4, and Arana went 1-for-3 with a run scored and another driven in.
The Ladyjacks will wrap up play in the Magic City Classic Sunday with a game against Eastern Illinois. The contest is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.
-- SFA --