USF Stays Red-Hot in Softball with sweep of Upper Iowa
USF Stays Red-Hot in Softball with sweep of Upper Iowa
SIOUX FALLS – After their 15-game winning streak was snapped the day before, University of Sioux Falls Softball responded with a pair of thrilling one-run victories over Upper Iowa. The Cougars (20-9, 5-1 NSIC) scored eight unanswered runs capped off by Sydney Nieveen’s second walkoff hit in three days to lead them to an 8-7 victory in game one against the Peacocks. USF rallied again in game two, recording their 20th win of the season by erasing a three-run deficit for a 4-3 victory.
Sophomore Courtney Mathews worked three total innings in the circle and earned both wins for Sioux Falls. USF’s 5-1 mark in conference play is their second best start to the NSIC schedule since they joined the league six years ago – the 2016 USF Softball team started 6-0 in NSIC play.
Sioux Falls is scheduled to resume competition at Minnesota State on Tuesday, April 3, but the weather forecast could alter the site, date and time of the scheduled doubleheader.
Sioux Falls 8, Upper Iowa 7
After allowing seven runs in the top of the first inning, Sioux Falls clawed their way back with eight unanswered runs, culminating with Sydney Nieveen’s walkoff single for an 8-7 victory over Upper Iowa. Nieveen drove in the game-winning run, but starting pitcher Kerrigan Hoshaw had four runs batted in and held the Peacocks scoreless after their seven-run outburst to start the game – only three of UIU’s seven runs were earned as a pair of errors led to the Peacocks’ big inning.
Courtney Mathews relieved Hoshaw in the top of the seventh after USF tied the game. Her scoreless inning preceded Nieveen’s heroics to warrant the win. Sioux Falls registered 13 hits in the game and Hoshaw held UIU to just one hit after their seven in the first frame.
Down 7-0, the Cougars were unfazed and immediately began their comeback. Hoshaw walked in the first response in the bottom of the first then doubled in the second run in the third. Sioux Falls still trailed 7-2 through three innings, but Hoshaw had just surrendered UIU’s final hit of the game when she threw a scoreless fourth, stranding a Peacock runner.
The Cougars capitalized on Hoshaw’s pitching, scoring four runs in the bottom half to pull within one run. With the bases loaded, Ashley Meyer singled off the pitcher’s glove to score the first run of the inning. Hoshaw stepped up again and singled in two more runners, pushing her RBI total to four, and bringing USF within two runs. Following a pitching change, Francesca Mickelson plated one more with an RBI groundout.
Within one run, Hoshaw kept dealing and tossed perfect fifth and sixth innings, surrounding the Cougars’ tying run in the bottom of the fifth. Megan Peterson singled after Emily Miller was hit by a pitch, and Miller was out caught trying to advance to third, but Peterson moved to second during the rundown. Mossman took advantage of Peterson’s baserunning prowess and drove her own with a single up the middle to tie the game.
Mathews relieved Hoshaw in the circle and avoided any damage in the top of the seventh, despite a USF fielding error. With a chance to walk off with a win for the third time in as many days, Peterson again proved to be the catalyst. She legged out an infield single with one out then advanced to second on a wild pitch. On a groundout in the following at-bat, she reached third. With two outs, Nieveen singled up the middle, sneaking past the diving UIU second baseman to plate Peterson for the game-winning run.
Sioux Falls 4, Upper Iowa 3
Facing a multiple-run deficit for the second consecutive game, the resilient Cougars battled back again, scoring in their final trip to the plate for a 4-3 win. Lindsey Mossman tripled in the game-winning run and Courtney Mathews picked up her second win of the day, allowing one hit in two scoreless innings of work.
USF starting pitcher Breanna Black, who strung together 13 scoreless innings on Wednesday and Thursday, allowed three runs in five innings of action, striking out six in the process. Seven different Cougars recorded a hit, led by Mossman’s two-hit performance. Ashley Meyer joined Mossman with an extra-base hit as her double scored the game-tying run in the fifth inning.
Upper Iowa again jumped out to a lead in the first inning, this time hitting a two-run homerun in the opening frame. As USF’s offense struggled early – the Cougars had only one hit in the first two innings and their runner was erased on a double play – Upper Iowa tacked on a third run in the third inning. Despite the three-run deficit, Black avoided any further damage in the third frame by stranding three UIU runners with an inning-ending strikeout.
The Cougars used the momentum of Black’s third-inning punchout and started to chip away at the Peacock lead in the bottom half. Megan Peterson stole second after singling to reach base. With two outs, Sydney Nieveen drove Peterson in for USF’s first tally. Meyer’s walk advanced Nieveen to second and Kerrigan Hoshaw drove her fifth run of the day in, scoring Nieveen on a single. Through three innings, Sioux Falls trailed Upper Iowa, 3-2.
Black continued to settle in, but the fatigue of nearly 300 pitches in her last two outings began to take its toll. The Mankato, Minn. native shook off two walks in the fourth inning, stranding both runners, then recaptured her magic in the fifth, striking out two batters to keep the Cougars down one.
Following Black’s two strikeouts to end the top of the fifth, USF broke through again to tie the game. Mossman singled to lead off and was advanced to third on a sac bunt, then third on a wild pitch. Meyer nearly gave Sioux Falls the lead with a line drive homerun, but it struck the fence, still enough for an RBI double that scored the tying run. With runners on first and second after Hoshaw drew a walk, Francesca Mickelson and Emily Hove both recorded hard line drives, but right at UIU defenders for the final outs of the inning.
Mathews came into relieve Black and overcame a leadoff walk with an emphatic strikeout. With another chance to seize the lead, Emily Cheloha beat out an infield single with one out and a failed sacrifice bunt attempt left the Cougars with two outs. With the pressure on, Mossman drove a ball to deep right centerfield, landing safely at the base of the fence and scoring Cheloha from first for the go-ahead run and a 4-3 lead.
In line for her second win of the day, Mathews again shook off any traffic on the basepaths with the help of a big strikeout. A leadoff bunt single gave the Cougar fans brief pause, but Mathews worked through the inning with a sacrifice bunt for the first out, a a strikeout for the second and a big short-hop pickup by Cheloha at third base for the final out.