ST. LOUIS — Fresh off of checking in at No. 20 in Tuesday's NJCAA Division I Top 20 poll, Three Rivers softball saw its 19-game winning streak come to an end.
Facing Division II No. 20 St. Louis Community College in a Missouri Community College Athletic Conference (MCCAC) matchup, Three Rivers came away with a series split. The Lady Raiders won the first game 9-5 before dropping the back end of the doubleheader 5-2. Despite the loss in game two, Three Rivers has still yet to drop a series this season.
In game one, a fast start was key for the Lady Raiders (28-3). Gracie King started a two-out rally with a double, and she scored after a throwing error to first base, which also allowed Allison Pingel to get on safely. Lana Reed followed with a two-run home run to left field, her third homer in as many games and fifth of the season.
Katie Young scored on an error at third base to put Three Rivers ahead 4-0 through two innings. St. Louis (20-4) got on the board in the fourth inning, but Allison Pingel shut the door with a two-run home run to left field in the fifth, scoring Kristyn Carpenter. Pingel now has four home runs on the season, extending her program record to 25 in her career.
"We hit the ball a lot better in the first game," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "I know Lana hit a home run early and Pingel hit one later. We just hit the ball a lot better the first game."
The Lady Raiders added three insurance runs in the top of the sixth inning. St. Louis tried to storm back with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the comeback attempt fell short. The Archers were plagued by six errors in the game, while Three Rivers committed two.
Abbey Gann picked up the win in the circle. She improved her record to 12-1 this season, pitching six innings and allowing eight hits, five runs — three earned — and striking out five. Adrienne Stucker pitched the last inning and allowed a hit, a walk and struck out one.
"I was pretty pleased with our pitching on the day. I thought they gave us a shot in both games," Null said.
In game two, Three Rivers was unable to string together enough consecutive hits. The Lady Raiders went three up, three down at the plate twice and had three hits through four innings. The Archers scored a run in the first inning to take an early lead, and Sydney Litviak drilled a two-RBI double into right field to cushion the lead even more.
Jenny Morey tallied the only RBI for Three Rivers in the fifth when she singled to score Lindsey Elfrink. St. Louis answered with two more runs in the sixth. With one more chance at the plate, the Lady Raiders scored one run, but the next three batters went down to end the game.
"The second game, their pitcher did a pretty good job of keeping us off balance with a lot of slow stuff, and we just took too long to figure her out," Null said. "I just thought the second game we didn't adjust very well to the slower stuff. She had us out front and we were popping up a lot."
Saje Kurpiela was credited with the loss, dropping to 12-2 on the season. She allowed nine hits and five runs — four earned — striking out two.
Three Rivers will continue its busy week with a trip to Lindenwood-Belleville for a doubleheader that is set to start at 2 p.m. Wednesday. After facing Lindenwood-Belleville, Three Rivers will host Jefferson College on Thursday and visit No. 12 Crowder on Sunday.
"We definitely have our hands full, you know, but it's something we need to see. We need to see this kind of competition," Null said.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic