#3 MSU Softball Splits Double-Header at ECU

No. 3 Midwestern State battled to a split to take two out of three over East Central, claiming a 6-2 win in Game 1 before falling 2-1 in eight innings in the series finale.

The Mustangs moved to 43-7 on the season and 12-3 in Lone Star Conference North play and will clinch their fifth division title with one win in next week's season ending series against Cameron at home.

MSU and the Aggies square off for one game Friday at 2 p.m. before closing the set with a twin bill Saturday at 2 and 4 p.m.

East Central is now 32-14 and 7-8 on the season.

MSU went to 15-2 all time at Lady Tigers Field.

Game 1:

McKenzie Sickler slugged two home runs and drove in five runs to lead Midwestern State to a 6-2 win over East Central in Game 1 Friday afternoon at Lady Tiger Field.

The senior shortstop from Troy belted her second homer of the season in the fifth inning to extend the Mustangs' advantage to 3-0 after junior third baseman Mallory Mooney launched a solo shot in the first inning for her eighth blast of the year.

But East Central battled back to plate runs as Cassandra Nordie and Shelby Simmons led off the fifth and sixth innings respectively with doubles off of MSU starter Kristina Gutierrez.

Brandi Goodrich lifted an RBI single in the fifth inning to pull the Lady Tigers to within two runs at 3-1, but Gutierrez worked her way out of the jam by striking out Nicole Sanchez to end the inning.

ECU's Emily Kennemer pulled the Tigers to within a run with an RBI single to left field in the sixth inning as Simmons was called safe at home despite never touching the plate on a great throw from Nicki Duff from left field.

Brittney Tanner came in relief to strike out the side and pitched a scoreless frame in the seventh to nail down her second save of the season.

The Mustangs put the game away in the top of the seventh as Tanner reached on an error and Amanda Potysman worked a walk to set up Sickler's second blast of the contest - a three-run homer down the left-field line.

Gutierrez improved to 17-2 on the season allowing two runs on six hits to go along with six strikeouts and no walks.

Randee Crockett took the loss to fall to 10-8 for ECU, yielding six runs on six hits with five strikeouts and a walk in seven innings.

Tanner and Sickler paced MSU's seven-hit attack with two safeties each.

Game 2:

Cassandra Nordie's two-out run scoring single to center field lifted East Central to a 2-1 win over No. 3 Midwestern State in eight innings Friday afternoon at Lady Tiger Field.

The eighth inning rally gave ECU just its second win in 17 tries against MSU and averted a series sweep.

Midwestern State's Mallory Mooney blaster her ninth homer of the season and second of the day to stake Mustangs' ace Brittney Tanner to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

And Tanner was just about up to the task as the senior right-hander limited the Lady Tigers to five hits while notching seven strikeouts and one walk in 7 2/3 innings.

But ECU first baseman Emily Kennemer led off the sixth inning with a homer over the scoreboard in left field to knot the game at 1-1 and the Tigers kept the pressure on with leadoff hitters reaching in five of eight innings.

Simmons' leadoff bloop to center field and subsequent steal of second base gave the Lady Tigers a runner in scoring position with no outs and 2-3-4 spots in the order coming to the plate.

Tanner fanned Kennemer swinging and induced Cami Correa to popout to second base before Nordie lined a 1-1 offering to center field to plate the winning run.

East Central starter Wanda Malone limited the Mustangs to one run on five hits in eight innings to improve to 19-6 on the season.

Nicki Duff and Courtney Bingham paced the MSU attack with two hits each.