By Jim Rueda email@example.com
The Mankato Free Press
---- — Coley Ries supplied the pitching in Game 1, Emily Bransky delivered the key hits in Game 2, and the Minnesota State softball team kept on rolling Tuesday at The Diamond on the MSU campus.
The Mavericks improved to 37-8 with their fifth and sixth straight wins — a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader sweep of Sioux Falls by scores of 3-0 and 11-3. MSU has won 28 of its last 30 games.
“I think we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position to reach our goals,” MSU third baseman Wood said. “Now we just have to finish strong.”
Wood and left-fielder Anna Cole were the offensive juggernauts in Game 1. Wood was 2 for 2 with a walk and two RBIs. Cole was 2 for 3 with a triple and the other RBI.
“I was looking for something outside,” Wood said of her two run-producing hits. “Our coaches do a pretty good job of scouting the other pitchers and figuring out their tendencies. I’m pretty confident up there right now.”
While Wood and Cole were fueling the MSU attack, Ries was turning in one of her best performances of the season. The right-hander faced just three batters over the minimum, striking out 14 and walking two.
Her two-hitter was MSU’s 15th shutout of the season. Ries improved her record to 19-3.
“I felt good today, my stuff was working well,” Ries said. “I was getting them with the rise ball.
“The warm weather helps a lot. Your whole body can get loose in weather like this.”
Ries’ counterpart, USF’s Amanda Walters, went into the game as the conference leader in strikeouts but was limited to just three against the Mavericks. Ries said she wasn’t trying to send any message to Walters with her 14 Ks.
“You just go out there and try to keep them from making solid contact,” Ries said. “Some games that’s going to mean a lot of strikeouts, and other games it’s going to mean a lot of mis-hits.”
In Game 2, Bransky led the offense, going 3 for 3 with four RBIs. She ripped a two-run triple in the second, another two-run triple in the fourth and singled and scored in the sixth.
Wood, Samantha Holien and Ashley Thell added two hits apiece. One of Thell’s hits was a two-run homer in the sixth.
Brittany Lauterbach got the win, allowing two earned runs on seven hits over five innings. Ries came in to pitch a perfect sixth with two more strikeouts to earn a save.
The Mavericks return to action Saturday with a doubleheader against St. Cloud State. Starting time is 1 p.m. at MSU.