Three Rivers softball had to find two different ways to get the same result Friday against North Central Missouri.
The Raiders hit four solo home runs to seal a 4-3 victory in the first game of a doubleheader at Rains Field. In the second game, the offense was slow to start, but the defense was on a roll. That gave the players enough time to find their bats. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Three Rivers scored three runs in its final two innings at the plate to earn a 3-1 win, extending its winning streak to 16 games.
"Our defense was outstanding. That was the biggest difference," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "We made about every play."
Three Rivers (25-2, 11-1 Region XVI) took the lead in the second inning of game one after Zoe Bisby and Kryslyn Colvin hit back-to-back home runs to give their team a 2-0 lead. Bisby made it two on the day with another solo shot in the bottom of the fourth to stretch the lead by another run. Bisby now has seven homers on the year, tying her with Gracie King for second-most on the team behind Kristyn Carpenter's eight.
Three Rivers looked to have the game in hand until a two-run home run from Kendra Holt in the sixth inning got the Pirates (18-11, 1-5) right back into it, cutting the deficit to one. They completed the comeback Mackenzie Robnett hit an RBI double to score Tatum Dunham.
Colvin came through in the clutch, though. With two out and no one on, she hit a first-pitch homer for the go-ahead run. Colvin now has three home runs on the year on 19 hits.
"If you can get four home runs out of your six and seven hole in a game, you ought to win," Null said. "We made it tough, you know. They battled back, and they had a chance but Abbey (Gann) finished it off. I'm super happy for Colvin. She's kind of been struggling, and she busted out today, you know, and picked a good time."
The second game tested the Raiders as they started slow on offense and tallied three hits in the game. With Katie Young on third base with one out in the bottom of the fifth, Sophie Wunderlich drew a walk on an 11-pitch at-bat, wearing down North Central pitcher Payton Craig. On the next pitch to Lindsey Elfrink, Craig threw a wild pitch over the catcher's head, giving Young enough time to cross the plate for the tying run.
"I think their pitcher wore down a little bit," Null said. "She was just pinpoint for the first five innings there. I think she kind of lost her control a little bit. … Sophie is up there fouling off, fouling off, fouling off, and they ended up throwing a wild pitch and we score the run."
After a quick inning by the defense put Three Rivers back at the plate, the bases were loaded with nobody out after Carpenter hit a single, King followed with a double and Allison Pingel drew a walk. Carpenter scored the go-ahead run after Reed drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Raiders the lead. King scored an insurance run after Bisby grounded out to second base. A 1-2-3 inning by the defense wrapped up the game.
The pitching continued to be a strength for Three Rivers in both of its wins. Abbey Gann worked all seven innings in the opener, striking out nine, allowing four hits and three earned runs. Gann's record this season improved to 10-1, and her ERA for the season sits at 1.48, which is 19th in the country. She averages 10.5 strikeouts per game, ranking third nationally.
Saje Kurpiela pitched a complete game on the back end. She allowed five hits, one walk, one strikeout and one earned run. With her win, she moves to 11-1 on the season with a 3.0 ERA. Both pitchers got solid help from their defense throughout the day. Carpenter was all over the ball in game two. She had four putouts and five assists.
"Once I make one play, it's like, 'Oh yeah, I can do this.' It just kind of pumps me up a little bit more. I also didn't do all that well offensively, so that made my mindset, you know, I have to make it up on the field."
Three Rivers will hold sophomore day Saturday during the final day of its four-game series against North Central. Sophomore day will begin at 11:45 a.m., and the opening pitch is set for noon.
"They're a good team, man. They'll be back tomorrow. We had two tight ones today, and I expect the same thing tomorrow," Null said.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic