LAS CRUCES, N.M. – For the first time since joining the Western Athletic Conference, the UMKC softball team made it out of its second elimination game in the WAC Tournament with a massive 20-10 victory over CSU Bakersfield, before falling to top-seeded New Mexico State on Friday night.
“I believe it was a very successful week for us as a program,” commented head coach Meredith Smith Neal. “The defense and offense were tremendous and such a motivator for us going forward. I am very proud of this team and very thankful for our seniors and all they have added to the program.”
Back-to-back errors by the Roadrunners put two on-base for UMKC with two outs to start the game. A walk dealt to Ashlin O'Brien (Fond du Lac, Wis.) loaded the bases and a three-RBI double to center field by second-team All-WAC selection Maegan Rollow (Broken Arrow, Okla.) gave UMKC the early 3-0 lead.
Starting pitcher Kendra Leach (Easton, Kan.) held CSU Bakersfield to just a single hit in the following two innings, before UMKC used a 12-run third inning to surge ahead of the Roadrunners. Kelsey Goodwin (Broken Arrow, Okla.) hit a one-out triple down the right field line to start momentum for the Roos, as a single by Rollow brought the sophomore home.
In the next at-bat, utility player Lia Lombardini (Chesterton, Ind.) hit her first collegiate long ball – a three-run shot – over the left field wall. Rollow continued her hitting streak, launching her third homer of the season, bringing a base runner with her. With two outs, Lombardini bombed another home run to nearly the same spot. UMKC's 12 runs in a single inning was just two shy of the tournament record of 14 set by Hawaii in 2010.
The slugfest continued in the remaining two innings of the game, as UMKC and CSU Bakersfield each tacked on five and six runs, respectively, in lieu of the Roos' 20-10 victory to survive and advance its second elimination game.
UMKC set a WAC Tournament record with its 20 runs in a single game, surpassing New Mexico State's 18 runs it scored against Utah Valley and CSU Bakersfield in 2015. The Roos also set a school record with their 20 runs, replacing the previous mark of 18 against South Dakota in 2015.
In the second game, New Mexico State added a run in the top of the first, but an RBI double down the right field line by Morgan Byrn (Lawrence, Kan.) knotted the game at one-all.
Both sides would go scoreless in the second, before the Aggies scored two runs on two hits to take a 3-1 lead. New Mexico State added a pair in the following inning to hold the 5-1 advantage going into the fifth.
UMKC put pressure on the Aggie in the bottom of the frame, as a double down the left field line by Rollow pushed O'Brien around the bases. A two-out wild pitch scored the second Roo of the inning, as UMKC trailed New Mexico State, 5-3, going into the sixth. In the final two innings, the Aggies' relief pitcher held the Roos to just a single hit, while New Mexico State tacked on 10 runs to end UMKC's tournament run.
UMKC finishes the 2017 season with an overall record of 17-38 and 5-10 in conference play. In 26 innings of play in four games at the tournament, the Roos tallied 45 runs on 59 hits and committed just a single error.
An all-tournament team will be announced at the conclusion of Saturday's championship game.
– UMKC –