March 28, 2009
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -
Two Ladyjack long balls were not enough to overcome UT-Arlington Saturday, as Stephen F. Austin dropped both games of a Southland Conference doubleheader to the Mavericks. SFA fell, 2-1, in the opener and dropped a 6-4 decision in Game 2, extending the Ladyjacks' current losing streak to four games.
SFA evens its record at 18-18 on the season and falls to 8-6 in SLC play. The Mavericks move to 13-17 overall with a 9-8 mark in Southland action.
The Ladyjacks took the early lead in both contests. SFA went ahead 1-0 in the third inning of Game 1 on Benet Higgs' second career home run. In the first at-bat of the inning, Higgs lifted an opposite-field shot that bounced off the top of the left-field fence and out.
The lead stood into the sixth inning, as sophomore Monika Covington held the Mavericks to two hits through the first five frames. But Cara Hulme blasted a two-run homer to left-center with two outs in the sixth.
Higgs came through with a big throw in the seventh to keep it a one-run game. She fielded a base knock on the run in center field and nailed Brittany Washington at the plate. Washington was attempting to score from second on the play. Covington got out of the inning on a ground-out in the next at-bat.
But the Ladyjacks managed just one baserunner each in the sixth and seventh innings and couldn't push a run across.
Covington (12-9) worked all seven innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits and five walks. She posted five strikeouts. Hulme took the win for UTA.
In the second game, Briana Bishop staked SFA to a big lead with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first. The bomb, her eighth of the season, went out to left field, scoring Higgs and Kendal Harper. Higgs led off the game by getting hit with a pitch, and Harper reached on a bunt single to set up the three-run jack.
UTA answered with Hulme's second long ball of the day in the top of the second. The Mavericks scratched again in the third, using a hit and an SFA error to push across an unearned run and draw to within one.
UTA broke through with three runs on four hits in the top of the fourth. Starting with a sacrifice fly by Washington, all three runs came with two outs.
Meanwhile, SFA struggled to find offense. The Ladyjacks got singles by Kari Hugie and Crystal Garcia in the second but left both runners on base. SFA went hitless over the next three innings until finally closing to within a run in the bottom of the sixth.
Bishop led off the frame with her second hit of the game, a single up the middle. Pinch-runner Candise Juarez moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kim Daley. Juarez came around to score on a double down the left-field line by Ashley Struchtemeyer. After Hugie drew a walk, pinch-runners Michele Huffman and Amber Price moved to third and second, respectively, on a ground-out by Lauren Luetge. Both runners were stranded when the inning ended on a strikeout.
UTA set the final score with a run on two hits in the top of the seventh, and SFA went down in order in the bottom half.
Luetge (6-8) started and pitched all seven innings. She allowed five earned runs on eight hits with two strikeouts. Heather Fortenberry took the win for UTA.
The teams will be back in action Sunday with the series finale, set to begin at noon.
-- SFA --