LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The UMKC softball team (15-39, 2-13 WAC) reeled off their second consecutive win in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament, holding on to an early lead to complete the upset of two seed Utah Valley (20-28, 10-4 WAC) by a 7-4 final count Thursday afternoon.
Similar to yesterday’s WAC Tournament opener, the Roos were able to put two baserunners aboard in the first two frames against Utah Valley starter Addie Jensen, who entered the game with seventh-best era in the conference at 3.34, but were unable to crack the scoreboard.
UMKC starting pitcher Lynsey Conner (Peggs, Okla.) stranded a runner as well in the bottom of the first before giving up the opening run of the game in the second. A one-out walk issued by Conner was followed up with a double and sac fly to give the Wolverines an early 1-0 advantage at the end of the second.
The Roos found a quick answer in their next at-bat, striking for a crooked number in the top of the third. Back to back singles by Faith Willis (Kearney, Mo.) and Sydney Garcia (Kansas City, Mo.) set the stage for the big inning before Ashlin O'Brien (Fond du Lac, Wis.) reached safely on a fielder’s choice to load the bases with no outs.
With three runners aboard, Kelsey Goodwin (Broken Arrow, Okla.) stepped to the plate and delivered the biggest swing of the game, clearing the bases on a first-pitch triple down the right field line. One batter later, Olivia Fluehr (Loves Park, Ill.) stung a double into the left center gap to send home Goodwin for a 4-1 UMKC lead.
After retiring to the first two hitters in the home half of the third, Conner was pegged for a pair of runs in surrendering a single and home run to Lyndsay Steverson, her ninth of the season. A third consecutive UVU hit chased Conner from the circle and summoned Fluehr for a relief appearance to get the Roos out of the third holding on to a 4-3 edge.
Fluehr kept her spectacular WAC Tournament performance in the circle going by setting down 11 consecutive Wolverines hitters, three of which coming via the punch out. Jensen was replaced in the circle to begin the fourth inning by 2018 WAC Pitcher of the Year Makayla Shadle. She was met with Lia Lombardini (Chesterton, Ind.) as her first batter faced, where Lombardini unloaded on a 1-1 pitch that was sent sailing over the left field fence for her fourth home run of the season. A two-out error that allowed O’Brien to reach second base later in the frame proved costly as Goodwin drilled a single into right center for her game-high fourth RBI, extending the Roos lead to 6-3.
UMKC would plate their final run in the sixth after getting their first two hitters aboard on a hit by pitch and UVU error. Garcia laid down a beautiful bunt to advance both runners, allowing O’Brien to drive in the lead runner on an RBI groundout.
Caragh Morris broke up the string of 11 in a row set down by Fluehr in the bottom of the seventh with a one-out solo home run to left, cutting the lead to 7-4. A walk following the long ball looked to shift the momentum back towards UVU, but an excellent defensive stop by O’Brien wiped out the lead runner before Fluehr induced a shallow fly out to seal the victory.
The win marked the second consecutive year in which the Roos walked away triumphant over Utah Valley in the WAC Tournament. Goodwin finished as the only player with a multi-hit game while Fluehr earned her second win of the tournament, allowing just one run on one hit and one walk with three strikeouts over 4.1 strong innings of work.
UMKC will match up with the top seeded host New Mexico State (27-22, 11-4 WAC) tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. CT in a WAC Tournament Semifinal contest. The game will be broadcast on the WAC Digital Network free of charge and will have Live Stats available.
– UMKC –