KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The UMKC softball team (14-39, 2-13 WAC) opened up play in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament with a dominant 7-1 victory over three seed Seattle U (33-21, 10-5 WAC) on Wednesday night.
Both sides failed to cash in on early opportunities to crack the scoreboard as UMKC stranded four runners and Seattle U left three aboard through the first two innings of play. Three up, three down innings tossed by Redhawks starter Andie Larkins and Roos starter Olivia Fluehr (Loves Park, Ill.) sent the contest into the fourth inning deadlocked at 0-0.
The Roos offense came alive in the fourth, striking for three runs to knock Larkins out of the circle. A walk, hit by pitch and error loaded the bases with just one out when Alex Larson (Overland Park, Kan.) came through with a pinch-hit RBI single to drive in the opening run of the game.
Shianne Smith entered the circle in relief of Larkins following Larson’s base knock and was greeted with a two-RBI double to left off the bat of Sydney Garcia (Kansas City, Mo.) to extend the lead to 3-0. The Roos were unable to capitalize further with two runners in scoring position and one out, closing the inning with a pop up and groundout.
A second consecutive perfect frame tossed by Fluehr in the home half of the fourth set the stage for a big four-run fifth inning to blow the game open. Fluehr led off the fifth with her eighth home run of the season to couple with her stellar pitching performance. A pair of walks and an infield single by Lia Lombardini (Chesterton, Ind.) loaded the bases with just one out before Faith Willis (Kearney, Mo.) drew a base on balls to stretch the UMKC advantage to 5-0.
Garcia would follow up the free pass with her game-high third RBI on a fielder’s choice. The Roos would scratch across their final run of the game on a wild pitch in the next at-bat, plating Lombardini to capture a commanding 7-0 lead.
Seattle U hit the scoreboard for their lone run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, drawing a leadoff walk that would later come around to score on an error. The Redhawks looked poised to forge a comeback in the sixth, getting runners to second and third with no outs in the frame. Fluehr dialed in with an overpowering array of pitches, retiring the next three hitters on a groundout, strikeout and foul out to keep the 7-1 lead in tact.
A scoreless top of the seventh sent Fluehr back to the circle needing just three outs to put the finishing touches on a complete-game effort and an opening round victory for UMKC. After surrendering a one-out walk, Lombardini flashed the leather with a sliding catch in foul territory for the second out before Fluehr wrapped up the contest in snagging a liner hit back to the circle. Fluehr’s spectacular performance in shutting down Seattle U finished with just one run allowed (unearned) on six hits and three strikeouts in her fourth complete-game outing of the season.
The Roos will resume play in the WAC Tournament tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. CT with a matchup against the number two seed Utah Valley. The game will be broadcast on the WAC Digital Network free of charge.
– UMKC –