HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State cranked three home runs on Friday, and came away with a two-game split of a series-opening doubleheader at the Bearkat Softball Complex.
Tiffany Thompson mashed a solo home run to break up a pitcher’s duel in the opening game of the series to propel the Kats (15-17, 6-5 SLC) to a 1-0 win. Sam Houston got solo shots from both Megan Crosby and Casey Kauder in the finale, but SFA (11-22, 3-5 SLC) scratched across three runs in the final two frames to square things up with a 5-2 win in the nightcap.
The teams will wrap up the series on Saturday with a 1 p.m. start in the finale.
Game 1 – Box Score
Sam Houston 1, Stephen F. Austin 0
Sam Houston’s Tayler Atkinson and SFA’s Callee Guffey were twirling dueling shutouts until Thompson gave the Bearkats the only run they would need with her third home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth.
The Kats had managed just two hits before Thompson’s blast, which gave Atkinson her seventh win of the year after the senior scattered five hits over 6.0 frames with three strikeouts. Lindsey McCleod followed the homer with a scoreless seventh for her third save of the year.
SFA’s Guffey, the Southland’s leader in ERA entering the weekend, was saddled with the loss for the Ladyjacks, dropping her to 5-7 on the year after throwing 6.0 innings of her own with a walk and two strikeouts.
Both the Kats and Ladyjacks left a runner in scoring position in the first, but SFA was able to put together its next threat in the third. A one-out single by Madison Clements gave the Ladyjacks something to work with and with two outs they put two more on base with a walk and a hit batter. But Atkinson was able to leave the sacks loaded by getting Autumn Holloway to ground out to second base on the first pitch she saw.
Atkinson worked around a one-out double in the top half of the fourth and in the Kats next inning they put together their first scoring threat since the opening frame. After Guffey retired the first two hitters of the inning, Codi Carpenter kept the inning going with a two-out walk and Crosby followed with a sure single into center field. That gave Sam Houston runners on first and second with two outs, but SFA would keep things scoreless as Guffey coaxed a ground ball off the bat of Ashley Goetz to end the threat.
SFA tried to take advantage of a leadoff single by Holloway, moving her into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Brittany Crawford then flew out to center field, but Taylor Fraccastoro reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners with two away. Atkinson then had to face Emily Wolfe and left her standing at home plate when she framed a 2-2 pitch on the inside corner for strike three.
The Kats finally cracked the scoring column in the bottom of the frame when Thompson took a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall off of Guffey to make it a 1-0 game. Carpenter also reached with a two-out double to right field, but Guffey was able to keep the score at 1-0 with a strikeout of Crosby to end the inning.
Game 2 – Box Score
Stephen F. Austin 5, Sam Houston 2
After the Ladyjacks had left nine on base in the series opener, Sam Houston left nine on their own and could not take advantage of seven hits and five hits allowed by Ladyjack starter Makayla Sikes as SFA evened the series with a 5-2 victory.
Sikes picked up just her second win of the year with her complete-game effort, striking out five to go with her five walks and seven hits allowed. McLeod fell to 5-4 for Sam Houston, allowing five runs on nine hits despite striking out six and walking just one in the game.
Tori Koerselman and Carpenter each had a pair of hits in the game, while Crosby and Kauder each connected on solo homers to account for the Sam Houston runs. Meanwhile, the Ladyjacks got most of their production from the top of the lineup with eight of their nine hits coming from the top five spots in the lineup and five hits from the Nos. 1 and 2 slots.
The Kats left a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the second and the Ladyjacks jumped out to a 1-0 lead an inning later. Tanna Huie got it started for SFA with a leadoff double to center field coming in to score two batters later with Kiriany Hornberger bounded a single back up the middle to score her from second and put the Ladyjacks in front 1-0.
McLeod worked out of a jam in the top of the fourth and the Bearkat offense rewarded her in the bottom half, knotting the score at 1-1. Sikes managed to get both Kaitlynn Dawson and Carpenter for the first two outs, but was not so lucky when facing Crosby, as the Bearkat catcher launched a 2-2 pitch out to left field to even things up.
The even score did not last for long as SFA retook the lead an inning later, taking advantage of a two-base throwing error by Sam Houston with one out in the frame. The miscue put Wolfe on second base, and after a single by Hornberger moved her up to third, Clements shot a first-pitch single back up the middle to score her and push SFA back out in front.
But the SFA advantage lasted just one batter into the bottom of the fifth as Kauder sent one out over the center-field fence for her first career home run to even things back up at 2-2. Katie Andrie then drew a one-out walk and Koerselman reached on her second hit of the game to give Sam Houston another scoring chance, but the Kats could not convert as Sikes retired each of the next two hitters to keep the score at 2-2.
Again, SFA answered back with another run to retake the lead an inning later. It took just one pitch for the Ladyjacks to position themselves to score as Holloway tripled into the left-field corner to start things off and two batters later Lauren Becker put them back in front with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The offense continued in the bottom half of the inning as the Bearkats loaded the bases, but could they could not push across the tying run. Carpenter singled to open the inning and Kauder and pinch hitter Hannah Marino walked with two outs to put a runner on every base for Sam Houston; however, Sikes was able to retire pinch hitter Jordan Franks on strikes to keep SFA in front 3-2.
A leadoff walk to Wolfe got SFA going again in the seventh and the second Sam Houston error of the game compounded things, setting the table for Clements who delivered an RBI double to give the Ladyjacks an insurance run. They got one more on the board a batter later when Brittany Lewis flared a single into right field to plate another, giving SFA a 5-2 lead going into the Bearkats’ final at-bat.
Sikes managed to get each of the first two hitters she faced in the seventh, but Sam Houston did not go quietly as Dawson and Carpenter delivered consecutive singles with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate. But the SFA hurler was able to finish it off, getting Crosby to ground out to first base to end things.