Sunday split for Mavs
CMU wins fifth of eight RMAC series this season
They had an opportunity to move into second place and to within striking distance of ninth-ranked Colorado School of Mines.
The Mavericks, though, dropped the finale of a four-game weekend softball series and are in third place in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference standings.
Colorado Mesa persevered to defeat CSU-Pueblo 6-5 in 11 innings in the first game Sunday at Bergman Field, but dropped the final game of the three-team series, 6-3 to Colorado Christian. Mesa defeated CSU-Pueblo 5-4 and the Cougars 8-0 on Saturday.
Still, the Mavericks won their fifth of eight RMAC series this season.
“There were many times we could’ve got the sweep, but it’s so hard to get that fourth game,” CMU senior Taylor Gross said. “We can’t settle anymore with just three. It means everything right now. We’re peaking and we can do it.”
The Mavericks (21-12-1, 19-8-1 RMAC) are percentage points behind CSU-Pueblo (25-11, 22-9 RMAC) for second place with eight games left. The RMAC regular season champion hosts the RMAC tournament May 2-4. More importantly, Mesa might now be in the hunt for an NCAA tournament berth. The first official regional rankings will be released this week.
“We’ll have a little better idea where we’re at and what’s going on,” CMU coach Candace Abrams said. “We’re kind of under the radar for some people, but I think we opened some eyes this weekend. “Hopefully, we’ll get ranked, but if not we’ve got to take care of business in RMAC. We still got two more conference weekends. We’ve got to take care of Adams and Chadron.”
The Mavericks got CSU-Pueblo’s attention after Gross scored the game winner against the ThunderWolves on Tawnee Woosley’s sacrifice fly to left field in the 11th inning.
“It was a toss,” Gross said. “Usually I wouldn’t go on something like that, but we’re in the 11th inning. You just got to do it. You got to take that chance.”
Gross slid by CSU-Pueblo catcher Brittany Styger and touched home plate just before Styger’s tag for Mesa’s only earned run of the game. CSU-Pueblo had five errors.
“There was definitely no doubt in that situation,” Abrams said. “Regardless of where we were, if she doesn’t score, I have my leadoff on and I still have another runner in scoring position. At that time in the game it’s about pushing. They’ve got to play catch too.”
Mesa, which left 15 runners on base in the 2 hour, 59 minute game, tied the game 4-4 in the sixth when Caitlin Pattee scored on an error.
CSU-Pueblo pushed a run across in the 10th on a two-out single for a 5-4 lead.
Mesa got the run back in the bottom half. Pattee reached on an error, advanced to second on another Woosley bunt single, then scored on Makayla Kovac’s sacrifice fly.
“Everything is starting to click,” Abrams said. “They are starting to show fight. They realize how close they are to tasting something. That’s exciting to watch them realize some good things are starting to happen and what’s to come.”
Jessica Severinsen pitched all 11 innings for the victory. She gave up five runs on 10 hits, four walks and struck out five.
Colorado Christian (19-19, 15-10 RMAC) scored three runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead and held on in the second game.
With two out, the Cougars loaded the bases on a base hit, hit batter and two walks against Courtney Shreves. Pinch-hitter Alyssa Zimmerman worked to a full count and then hit a ball to right-center field.
Mesa center fielder Rachel Boothe appeared to have it in sight as she chased it down, but the ball glanced off the end of her glove and fell in for a three-run double.
“That’s all this game is — great defense, timely hitting and great pitching,” Abrams said. “The way this field is set up, when this time of day hits, right field and center field gets that (sun). It’s a little sketchy. You can only work on it so much.”
“That was just a miscommunication,” Abrams added “It really wasn’t the sun. It was poor communication on their parts.”
Mesa came back with a Kovac two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth, but trailed 4-3.
Colorado Christian added two more runs in the seventh on a Jackie Sanzolone home run.
Cougars pitcher Genevive Reyna limited the Mavericks to three runs on eight hits in a complete game.
“She did a good job keeping us off balance,” Abrams said. “Sometimes off speed works on us, but we’ve done a good job of training for it.”