Struzynski’s riseball stymies Mesa State

Mesa State College pitcher Jason Fronczak throws to a New Mexico Highlands University batter during the bottom of the second inning of Saturday’s game at Suplizio Field.

WINONA, Minn. — A riseball looks so tempting.

Until it rises out of the strike zone.

Stacey Struzynski’s riseball had Mesa State College fooled to the tune of 10 strikeouts Friday
in the opening game of the NCAA Division II Super Region 3 softball tournament, a 7-1 win by Winona State.

“You don’t get to be 25-5 without being good at what you do,” Mesa State coach Kris Mort said of the quick-pitching sophomore. “We were not disciplined with that riseball.

“Obviously it breaks quite a bit because it looks awfully good coming in and when you swing it’s not there.”

Struzynski made only one real mistake Friday, leaving a ball out over the plate in the fifth inning on a 3-2 count to Meagan Hennessy. The Mavs’ senior catcher drove it deep to left for their only run of the game, breaking up a no-hitter.

“Yeah, I wish I could have that pitch back,” Struzynski said. “I missed and she was all over it.

Props to her, she hit it hard.”

The Warriors (48-11) need to win only one of two games today to reach the NCAA Division II Elite Eight; the Mavs (30-20) need to sweep a doubleheader.

“We were a little tight,” Mort said. “For the first time, it feels like a regional. It didn’t really feel like a regional last week. Those plays we made last weekend, we didn’t make today.

“It can’t be a sometime thing this time of year. You play sometime softball, you go home.”

Winona State scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning off Jessica Rayman, including a three-run home run by Mollie Bjelland, to put the Mavs in an early hole.

A few inches here or there in the sixth inning could have made it a different ballgame.
Down 7-1, Dani Vallie and Jamie Prather laced back-to-back singles up the middle and Gabi Parra walked to load the bases.

On a full count, Sara Jordan grounded sharply back to Struzynski, who started a 1-2-3 double play, forcing Vallie at the plate. Lauren Cross’ bid for a base hit was gloved in the hole by shortstop Callie Givens to end the inning and the Mavs’ only real threat of the game.

“That ball (by Jordan) gets through, we score two runs there,” Mort said. “Or if that ball gets through the 5-6 hole there, we’re in a different game. We’re all of a sudden that team that came back last week. That was the spark we needed and we didn’t get it.”


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