Walk-off HR by Towner gives Metro RMAC softball crown

Metro State took advantage of having the last at-bat Saturday to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference softball tournament.

With two out and two strikes against her, Mary Towner blasted a pitch over the left-field fence in the eighth inning for a walk-off home run in the Roadrunners’ 2-1 victory over Fort Lewis at Bergman Field.

“I know I had a couple errors throughout the game,” Towner said. “My teammates had my back. We got the outs we needed. It was my turn to have their back.

“It was awesome.”

Towner’s home run came moments after Metro State went from having runners on the corners with no outs to no runners on with two out.

Dani Sandel led off with a single and advanced to third on Kelsey Tillery’s single, but the umpires ruled Sandel left the base before the pitch and was called out. Tillery returned to the batter’s box after the dead ball and grounded out for the second out.

“It was frustrating, I think it’s safe to say,” Metro coach Annie Van Wetzinga said. “It took us all a second to reset ourselves, but at the end of the day you don’t have a choice. I think we were able to flush it.”

Metro State (32-15) came back to win five consecutive games to win the tournament. The Roadrunners receive the RMAC automatic bid to the NCAA Division II tournament. The entire field will be announced Monday.

“As soon as we lost our first game to Fort Lewis (on Friday), you get nervous, but in the team meeting, you could tell they were determined,” Van Wetzinga said. “They believed they could do it.”

Fort Lewis (26-29) came within one run of winning the tournament as the No. 8 seed. The Skyhawks’ season is over.

“It was a great run,” Fort Lewis coach Kira Zeiter said. “Honestly, I didn’t expect anything different from our team. Of course we wanted to finish it off, but we came in here and played the way we know we can play.”

The Skyhawks won the coin flip and opted to be the visiting team to bat first, but their offense never took off. They left the bases loaded three times and finished with 12 runners left on base.

Fort Lewis had the bases loaded in the fifth with its leading hitter, Chelsea Rodriguez, at the plate.

Rodriguez smacked a pitch into left-center, but Metro center fielder Colissa Bakovich sprinted to the gap and came up with a game-saving diving catch to keep Metro in front 1-0. She received the tournament MVP award.

“I saw it in the air,” Bakovich said. “I had this feeling I was going to catch it. I didn’t have any doubt when I went for it. I just knew I had to get it.”

“Colissa plays hard; I wasn’t surprised,” Van Wetzinga said. “That was as big as the home run. It was huge. To make that catch on a ball hit that hard in that situation with the bases loaded was unbelievable.”

Metro’s Cassidy Smith (18-4) limited the Skyhawks to two hits and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings. She won all three games for the Roadrunners on Saturday and had four wins in the tournament.

Fort Lewis pitcher Kiley Raica pitched well enough to win, but didn’t get the run support. The junior (9-14) allowed two runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings.

“I know I have a tight defense behind me,” Raica said. “They’ve been tight behind our pitching staff all year. I wanted our seniors to go out with a bang. Even though we didn’t get the win, we played our hearts out. I’m really proud of everybody.”

Metro State 13, Fort Lewis 2 (5): Smith limited the dangerous Skyhawk offense to two runs on 10 hits to force the if-necessary game.

Towner was 2 for 4 with a three-run home run and four RBI.

Metro State 9, CU-Colo. Springs 7: Aubree Maul came on in relief to halt the Mountain Lions’ rally in the sixth and the Roadrunners advanced to the championship game.

Chelsea Brew was 3 for 4 with one double, one home run and four RBI to lead Metro State.

CU-Colorado Springs ended its season 27-19.


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