OMAHA, Neb. – A strong pitching performance and a pair of home runs nearly gave the UMKC softball team (10-33, 0-9 WAC) a victory in game one of a doubleheader with Creighton (19-12, 4-2 Big East) before falling to the Bluejays by a 13-12 final score in a back and forth game two.
Lynsey Conner (Peggs, Okla.) made the start in the circle for UMKC in for the first game of the day, putting together one of her best starts of the 2018 season. The senior hurler got off to a quick start, picking up a strikeout and groundout to the first two hitters of the game, but had trouble closing out the frame in allowing a hit and three walks to the next four hitters.
After walking in the opening run of the game, Conner regrouped to induce a groundout to escape the bases loaded jam with just one run allowed. Conner carried the momentum from stranding a trio of runners through the rest of her day, allowing just one hit through three scoreless innings of work following the opening frame.
Creighton would strike for a run in the fifth off of Conner, who finished off the inning with the Roos leading 4-2, putting the final touches on a strong start of two runs allowed on two hits with a season-high five strikeouts over five innings in the circle.
The UMKC offense, after stranding five runners combined in the first two innings of play, broke through in the third for a three-run frame to jump on top. With two runners aboard, Maegan Rollow (Broken Arrow, Okla.) sent a long home run down the left field line to put the Roos up 3-1. The long ball, one of two hits in the game, was her first of the season and upped her RBI total to 13.
Catcher Alyx Bloom (Clay Center, Kan.) gave UMKC an extra insurance run in the fifth with a solo home run to left, her second of the season, extending the lead to 4-1. Bloom had an impressive showing at the plate in game one, finishing 3 for 4 and only a triple away from hitting for the cycle.
Olivia Fluehr (Loves Park, Ill.) took over in the circle in the 6th inning looking to keep the Roos 4-2 lead in tact into the final inning. Fluehr retired two of the first three hitters before a hit by pitch and single consecutively cut the lead to a single run. With two outs still recorded and two runners aboard, a misplayed fly ball that would’ve ended the inning resulted in two more runs crossing the plate to give Creighton a 5-4 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Kelsey Goodwin (Broken Arrow, Okla.) drew a walk in gritty 12-pitch at-bat and was followed up by a first-pitch single by Rollow put the tying and winning runs aboard with just one out. The Roos were unable to cash in to make the comeback, leaving their ninth and tenth runners on base in the 5-4 loss.
Game two saw UMKC strand two runners in the top of the first before Creighton took an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single off of starting pitcher Sara Miller (Marietta, Ga.) in the home half of the frame. The Roos responded quickly with a pair of runs of their own in the second, scoring on a hit by pitch and wild pitch to consecutive hitters with the bases loaded.
After a scoreless second inning from Miller, UMKC tacked on to their lead in the third with a pair of solo home runs from Goodwin and Alex Larson (Overland Park, Kan.), her first of the 2018 campaign. Creighton would record a solo shot of their own along with an RBI double in the third to trim the Roos’ lead to 4-3 heading into the fourth.
Three consecutive hits, including a leadoff home run, to start the bottom of the fourth chased Miller and brought in Andra O'Brien (Fond du Lac, Wis.). Creighton would add four more runs in the inning to take an 8-4 lead into the fifth. UMKC refused to away quietly, scratching across two runs on RBI groundouts from Morgan Byrn (Lawrence, Kan.) and Larson, who finished the game going 3 for 4 with two RBI’s, in the fifth.
A shutdown inning in the fifth from Lynsey Conner paved the way for a three-run top of the sixth for the Roos. All three runs scored on another long home run from Goodwin, her second of the game and third of the season. Goodwin collected three hits in the contest along with four runs driven in, giving her 23 RBI’s on the year.
Creighton jumped back in front once more with four-runs, including a pair of homers, in the bottom of the sixth, setting the stage for yet another UMKC comeback. Trailing 12-9 entering the final inning of play, the first two Roo hitters reached base safely before Faith Willis (Kearney, Mo.) came through with a clutch three-run bomb, the team’s fourth and tenth combined in the game, to right center to even up the score. With the score tied entering the home half of the seventh, Creighton’s Hope Moreno led off the inning with a walk-off home run to wrap up game two with a 13-12 final score.
UMKC resumes play this weekend when they return home to host CSU Bakersfield for a three-game Western Athletic Conference series over Apr. 20-21.
– UMKC –