HOUSTON – The Sam Houston State Bearkats dropped a pair of games on the first day of the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic on Friday, closing out the day with a heartbreaking walk-off loss to Houston after falling in the opener to Wisconsin at the Cougar Softball Stadium.

The Bearkats (7-10) had won five in a row coming into the weekend, but ran into a Badger buzzsaw in the opener as the Wisconsin ran its record to 14-2 on the season with a 14-3 win. In the nightcap the Kats got the bats going in an 11-hit effort and erased a two-run deficit in its final two at-bats before falling in walk-off fashion, 6-5, to the Cougars who moved to 9-11 on the season.

Game 1 – Box Score
Wisconsin 14, Sam Houston 3 (6 innings)
Sam Houston could not avoid the big inning in the tournament opener as they saw their five-game win streak come to an end, 14-3, at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers.

The Bearkats used four pitchers on the day with Tayler Atkinson taking the loss after allowing five runs – three earned – in just 2.0 innings of work to fall to 2-5 on the year. Offensively Sam Houston picked up six hits, but just one in the first three innings before Kaitlynn Dawson connected on her second home run of the year to start off a three-run sixth.

Kirsten Stevens picked up the win for the Badgers with three strikeouts in 5.1 shutout innings.

Top 1st
Atkinson gave up a leadoff double to Kelsey Jenkins to open up the game and after Jenkins swiped third, the Badgers had a runner in scoring position with just one out. But Atkinson was able to get back-to-back strikeouts of Brooke Wyderski and Sara Novak for the final two outs to keep the Badgers off the board.

Bottom 1st
Tori Koerselman opened things up with a single for the Kats, and advanced as far as third after a sacrifice bunt and a Badger error. But Wisconsin starter Kristen Stevens managed to get a strikeout of Codi Carpenter before Kaitlynn Dawson grounded out to third base to end the threat.

Top 2nd
After Wisconsin nullified the Bearkat scoring opportunity, it took just one batter into the second inning for them to take the lead. First baseman Stephanie Lombardo led off the inning with her third homer of the season over the right field fence. They tacked on another on a squeeze bunt three batters later after a Bearkat miscue set the Badgers up with a runner in scoring position and Jenkins made it a 3-0 lead two batters after that with an RBI single.

Top 3rd
A single and a double to open up the Badger half of the inning and Lombardo drove in her second run of the game one batter later on an RBI single up the middle. That prompted the Kats to go to Casey Kauder out of the bullpen and she promptly coaxed a double play from Kayla Konwent, although it pushed another run across the plate. Kauder then struck out Melanie Cross, but the Badgers still held a 5-0 lead after the inning.

Top 4th
Wisconsin added four more in the top of the fourth with the second Bearkat error with one out starting the rally. Jenkins then singled to get the first run home and Broke Wyderski delivered a two-run double two batters later. Novak then singled to put runners at the corners and Lombardo got another run home with a ground ball to shortstop. 

Bottom 4th
The Badgers went to the bullpen to open the fourth and Angela Morrow got the first two Bearkats of the inning before Kaitlynn Dawson touched her up for a solo bomb to left field, her second of the year, to get the Kats on the board. Ashley Goetz followed with a walk and both Tiffany Thompsonand Katie Andrie singled as the Bearkats loaded the bases. Hannah Marino and Megan McDonald then drew consecutive walks to bring in two more, cutting the lead to 9-3 after four frames.

Top 6th
The first six hitters of the sixth reached base for the Badgers as they cashed in with XX runs in the frame. Singles from Jenkins and Chloe Miller preceded a double from Wyderski that scored each runner. Novak and Lombardo each followed with singles, with the latter driving in another Badger score. A fielder’s choice from Cross and the third Bearkat error of the game scored two more.

Katie Andrie was the lone Bearkat with multiple hits for the game finishing 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Dawson added her home run, while McDonald and Marino each had an RBI apiece.

Game 2 – Box Score
Houston 6, Sam Houston 5
The Bearkats scored two runs in the top of the seventh with Casey Kauder and McDonald delivering a pair of two-out RBI, but Brooke Vannoy’s walk-off single pushed Houston past Sam Houston, 6-5, in the nightcap.

Sam Houston outhit the Cougars 11-9, but allowed a pair of home runs and left 11 runners stranded on base as Houston picked up its second victory of the day.

Lindsey McLeod struck out three in 5.0 innings and allowed just five hits, but issued five free passes and saw two hits leave the yard in getting the start; however, Atkinson was saddled with the loss after allowing the winning run in the seventh.

Cougar starter Savannah Heebner picked up her fourth win of the year in complete-game fashion, just days after throwing a complete-game shutout at No. 5 Texas A&M.

Bottom 1st
Houston struck first in the opening frame on a slicing bloop single from Maya Thomas that scored Arielle James who opened the inning with a single. Walks to Kaylin Crumpton and Shelby Miller each walked to load the bases for the Cougars, setting things up for Thomas’ go-ahead hit. McLeod still had work to do, though, and minimized the damage by coaxing fly balls from Savannah Heebner and Brooke Vannoy.

Top 3rd
A single from McDonald and walk to Koerselman put the Kats in business out of the gate in the third. They cashed in on the early opportunity after Megan Crosby bunted the runners up, setting the table for Dawson who shot a two-run single back up the middle to put the Bearkats in front 2-1.

Bottom 3rd
The lead, however, lasted just two batters into the bottom half of the inning. McLeod issued a leadoff walk to Sarah Barker and then Shelby Miller sent her eight homer of the season out to dead center field, vaulting Houston back in front 3-2.

Top 4th
Down a run, Sam Houston put together a two-out threat that started with a single from Katie Andrie. Another single, this one from McDonald, put a pair on and Koerselman loaded the bases with two outs with a single of her own. But Heebner was able to get Crosby to ground out harmlessly back to the circle, leaving the sacks loaded.

Bottom 5th
Houston added another run to its lead in the fifth when Barker took the second pitch she saw over the right-field fence for her second homer in as many games and her third of the year, upping the lead to 4-2.

Top 6th
A walk to Andrie opened up the top of the sixth for the Kats and after a throwing error one batter later put her on third, she came in to score to trim the lead to 4-3 on a double into the left-field corner by McDonald. An infield single by Megan Crosby put runners on the corners with two outs for Dawson, but Heebner was once again able to get out of the jam with minimal damage, getting Dawson to ground out to end the inning.

Bottom 6th
Houston added some insurance in its half of the sixth, taking advantage of a leadoff walk to Elise Lebeouf by Atkinson who had entered in relief to start the inning. A ground out advanced her up a base and Kaylin Crumpton followed with a sure single up the middle to bring Lebeouf home.

Top 7th
The Bearkats had a chance to knot things up in its half of the seventh after Goetz drew a leadoff walk and Thompson followed two batters later with one of her own, putting the tying run on base. But two foul outs put the Cougars one out away from a win before Casey Kauder delivered a pinch-hit RBI single. One batter later McDonald lined a double into the left-center field gap to tie it up before Houston’s final at-bat.

Bottom 7th
Houston wasted no time putting together a threat in the bottom half of the inning as Miller bounded a single over Koerselman’s head at third base to lead off and then Thomas beat out a bunt single. Emily Bounds got the first out of the inning as she fired a strike to third base from right field to get a force out after playing a bloop fly ball on a shorthop, but one batter later Vannoy got the job done for the Cougars when she was able to drop a soft line drive on the left-field chalk for the game-winning hit.

McDonald finished 4-for-4 on the night, scoring once with a double and an RBI. Dawson, who homered in the first game of the day against Wisconsin picked up two RBI with her third-inning single. In all, eight Bearkats picked up at least one hit against the Cougars.

The Bearkats continue the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic on Saturday with a pair of games, beginning at 11:30 a.m. against Princeton. The Kats will then battle ULM at 2 p.m.