Lack of offense dooms Mavs in DH loss to Lopers

Courtney Maihi hits a double Sunday during the Mavericks’ doubleheader loss to Nebraska-Kearney at Bergman Field.

The lightning delay didn’t help.

Immediately after Colorado Mesa junior Megan Smith hit her third home run of the weekend series, thunder and lightning encompassed Grand Junction.

After a 30-minute mandatory NCAA wait, play resumed, but the Mavericks were unable to rally.

Nebraska-Kearney swept Mesa in a RMAC doubleheader in Mesa coach Kris Mort’s home finale on Sunday at Bergman Field. The Lopers defeated Mesa 8-2 and 4-2 to win three of four in the weekend series. Mort is retiring after the season, her 19th.

Mesa (23-17, 21-15 RMAC) struggled to put together hits and runs, something the Mavericks usually do well at under Mort.

Mesa’s 13 runs in four games were a season-low for a series.

“Our kids were in their heads,” Mort said. “We beat ourselves. We had opportunities (to score) and couldn’t do anything but pop it up and ground it out. If you’re a power hitter, you’ve got to be aggressive earlier in the count.

“Nobody was clutch. Megan Smith had the most fight in her than anybody. All of our other hitters are in their heads right now.”

The Mavericks hit .268 in Sunday’s doubleheader and .286 on the weekend. Mesa came into the series hitting .357 on the season.

Kearney pitcher Bailey Backhuus limited the Mavericks to one run on five hits in six innings of relief (two appearances). She got the victory in the first game and a save in the second game. Becky Dunn was the winning pitcher in the second game.

Mesa played solid defense behind its pitchers with one error in the doubleheader, something that was question mark for the team at the start of the season.

“We finally turned our defense around and now all of a sudden it’s where did our hitters go,” Mort said. “You can’t be mental when you are a hitter. You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to be the one.”

The Lopers (22-20, 19-13 RMAC) grabbed a 4-1 lead in the first game on a three-run home run by Dani Mowinkel and a Mallory Noakes RBI double in the fourth. Kearney added two in the fifth and two in the sixth.

Lauren Cross produced all of Mesa’s offense in the first game with a solo home run and a RBI single.

Kearney broke open a pitchers’ dual in the sixth inning of the second game with a Sarah Rome three-run home run. The Lopers hit six home runs on the weekend.

“We didn’t work the ball down enough,” Mort said. “We fell behind in our counts and we gave up way too many home runs and doubles. We didn’t match it at the plate. What we could defend and make plays on we did. It’s tough to play defense against home runs. We hang way too many pitches this time of year.”

Smith hit a solo home run to get Mesa within two runs in the bottom of the sixth.

The lightning put the game on pause, but Kearney put a halt to a Mesa rally.

Colorado Mesa dropped to fifth place in the RMAC standings and needs one victory to clinch a RMAC tournament berth in its final RMAC series next weekend at the Colorado School of Mines.


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