LAWRENCE, Kan. – The UMKC softball team (6-14) used a late comeback and some extra innings magic to pull off a 7-6 win over Western Illinois (6-19) to open play in the Rock Chalk Challenge.
After the Roos stranded a runner in scoring position in the top of the first, Western Illinois cashed in with a pair of runs off of starting pitcher Lynsey Conner (Peggs, Okla.) in the bottom half of the frame. A UMKC throwing error brought in the opening run of the game, a two-out single extended the inning and extended the lead to 2-0.
Conner regrouped to retire the side in order in the second inning to keep the team within striking distance. UMKC got their offense in going in the top of the third where the team struck for a pair of runs to tie the game. After the first two batters recorded outs, Sydney Garcia (Kansas City, Mo.) picked up her second hit and stolen base of the game and was followed up with a single to left from Maegan Rollow (Broken Arrow, Okla.).
Still with two outs, a passed ball brought in Garcia to put the Roos on the board. Olivia Fluehr (Loves Park, Ill.) tied the game at 2-2 with an RBI single through the left side to wrap up the scoring in the inning.
Western Illinois jumped back out in front in the bottom of the fourth with a three-run inning to end Conner’s night in the circle. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jasmine Lara cleared the bases with a double to left, knocking Conner out of the game. Fluehr came on in relief to end the frame with Roos trailing 5-2 after four.
Fluehr continued to stifle opposing hitters in the relief appearance, tossing 5.1 innings of one-run ball and picking up six strikeouts for her second win of the season. UMKC threatened to close the gap in the sixth, getting two runners into scoring position but could not come through with a big two-out hit.
Down to their final three outs and staring down a three-run deficit, the Roos put their resiliency on display with a comeback to even up the game. With two outs in the inning, Morgan Byrn (Lawrence, Kan.) ripped a double to right-center and was driven in by Fluehr with an RBI single, her second of the game and team-best 22nd of the season.
Goodwin kept UMKC alive with an RBI triple to bring UMKC within one, standing on third base as the tying run with Lia Lombardini (Chesterton, Ind.) at the plate. After quickly getting down 0-2 in the count, Lombardini came through with a clutch RBI single to tie the game.
Fluehr came up with a huge strikeout with two runners on base in the bottom of the eighth to force another inning, where Lombardini once more came through with a huge at bat. With two outs and a runner aboard, the sophomore infielder sent a home run, her first of the year, over the fence to left-center to put the Roos on top 7-5.
Western Illinois nearly made a late comeback of their own in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with just one out. A wild pitch cut the lead to 7-6 but Fluehr responded with a strikeout and fly out to seal the extra innings victory.
UMKC will continue action in the Rock Chalk Challenge tomorrow night at 7 p.m. CT with a matchup against Saint Louis University.
– UMKC –