The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 25, 2013

MSU sweeps Sioux Falls in softball

By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor

ST PETER — On a cool, sunny, breezy afternoon in St. Peter, Minnesota State senior Courtney McKelvogue took the mound to face the University of Sioux Falls in an NSIC softball game.

The tall right-hander wasn’t particularly sharp, but she nibbled and finessed her way to a five-hit shutout in a 1-0 Mavericks victory. MSU went on to win the second game 12-4 to sweep the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader at Gustavus’ Hollingsworth Field.

McKelvogue struck out eight while walking only one. She worked her way out of a couple of jams, including one in the fourth when she left runners stranded on first and second.

When it was over, she was asked if she liked pitching in cooler weather. She chuckled as she thought about the spring all area sports teams have had to endure.

“I’m just glad it’s not snowing,” she said. “Today was great compared to some of the weather we’ve had to play in.”

The Mavericks scored the only run of the game in the top of the seventh. Junior Kelly Wood jumped a 1-1 pitch from Brittany Bouman and sent it over the fence in left-center for the game-winning solo shot.

“I wasn’t trying to hit it out, I was just trying to hit a line drive somewhere,” Wood said. “But it felt good as soon as I hit it. I thought it had a chance.”

Wood and shortstop Abby Sonner finished with two hits apiece for the Mavericks.

MSU’s senior center fielder Lauryn Morris made the defensive play of the game in the second. With a runner on first, Katie Larson sent a deep line shot over Morris’ head that the outfielder backtracked on and was able nab with the tip of her glove.

“Defense was the reason we won this game,” McKelvogue said. “I didn’t have my best stuff but my team played well behind me and (catcher Lindsay Erickson) did a great job framing the pitches and getting me some strikes. Little things like that allow you to win close games.”

Game 2 was not nearly as tight. Leading 2-1 after four innings, the Mavericks went on to score three runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and five in the seventh to pull away.

MSU ended up with 16 hits in the game, led by Sonner and Erickson, who had four hits apiece. Erickson drove in six runs with an RBI single in the third, a two-run homer in the fifth and a three-run shot in the seventh.

Anna Cole, Jenna Peterson and Tatum Klein added two hits apiece. Cole knocked in a pair of runs.

Brittany Lauterbach pitched the first six innings for the win. She struck out two and allowed just two earned runs on three hits. Peterson pitched a perfect seventh.

The Mavericks improve to 31-9 overall and 16-4 in the NSIC. Sioux Falls drops to 13-25 and 8-16.

NOTES: MSU has adjusted its schedule again and will now have a home doubleheader on Saturday at The Diamond behind Gage Towers against Minnesota Duluth. Starting time is 1 p.m.

MSU head coach Lori Meyer said the team will apply for a red-shirt season for freshman Coley Ries. The Mankato East graduate suffered a forearm injury early on the spring and has not thrown since.

A red-shirt designation would mean Ries will still have four years of eligibility starting next season.