IRVINE, Calif. – Dixie State softball split with Concordia for the second day in-a-row. Once again, the Blazers took the second game to even the series, but the result is not what DSU Coach Randy Simkins wanted as they must now win their remaining six games to win the conference.
The first four games will come against the team sitting in first place, Cal Baptist. The Lancers just had a 26-game winning streak snapped by Azusa Pacific. That loss prevented Cal Baptist from claiming the PacWest Championship before meeting the Trailblazers next weekend.
Cal Baptist is 25-3 in the PacWest, with only their series against Dixie State on their schedule. Dixie State sits in second at 19-7, while close on their heels are Azusa Pacific (18-8) and Concordia (17-9). Any losses to Cal Baptist will not only cost the Blazers a shot at the PacWest championship, but also could drop them below second place in the PacWest.
If Dixie State sweeps Cal Baptist, the Blazers will still have to return home for a doubleheader against Academy of Art, currently sitting in fifth place. Below are game summaries of Saturday’s games:
CUI 6, DSU 3
The Eagles jumped out early, scoring two runs in each of the top two innings. The Blazers were hurt by three errors, as three of the four runs were unearned.
DSU got three back in the top of the third. Jessica Gonzalez and Josey Hartman hit consecutive singles to open the inning. After Janessa Bassett sacrificed them to second and third, Brenna Hinck singled in the two runners. Hinck later scored on a single by Dani Bartholf.
The Blazers would not score again. Concordia added a two-run homer in the fifth to get to the final score 6-3.
“Those errors hurt us in the beginning innings,” said Dixie State head coach Randy Simkins. “We fought back, but against good pitching we did not have any great swings.”
Dixie State’s ace, Brooklyn Beardshear, took her second loss in a row (13-6) after pitching a no-hitter last week. She gave up six runs (three earned) on nine hits, striking out five.
DSU 3, CUI 1
The second game was a pitching duel between Dixie State’s Alexis Barkwell and the Eagles BethAnn McCann. Through the first seven innings, Concordia’s McCann had only allowed one run on two hits. Though Barkwell gave up seven hits, she was able to get out of early jams and still limit Concordia to just one run. Barkwell only allowed two hits in innings three through seven.
The Eagles scored in the first inning to take the early 1-0 lead. In the top of the third the Blazers answered. Gonzalez led off with a double. She advanced to third on a Hartman sacrifice-bunt. She scored on a single by Bartholf up the middle. After tying the score, DSU had the bases loaded with only one out. But McCann struck out the next batter and got out of the inning with a pop fly. That would be the only time that the Blazers would seriously challenge till the game went into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, the Blazers got a big lift when Bassett got on with a walk. The Eagles took some steam out of that, however, when the third baseman cleanly fielded Bartholf’s bunt and got Bassett out at second base.
Hinck then singled, moving Bartholf to third. Hinck advanced to second on the throw to third base. Kenzie Sawyer then singled in the two runners with a shot to shallow left center. McCann was able to escape the inning without any more damage.
“We got good production from Hinck and (Kaitlyn) Delange,” said Simkins. “And that hit by Kenzie Sawyer was big. We executed well in the eighth.”
After getting the initial out in the bottom of the eighth, Dixie State saw the next two batters get on base with a walk and a single. The next batter grounded the ball sharply to third baseman Bartholf, who tagged third for the second out and keept the runners at first and second. The last batter hit another sharp grounder, this time to first baseman Mallory Paulson to end the game.
Barkwell got the win (9-1), limiting the Eagles to eight hits and one run.
“Lexi (Barkwell) had a great game,” said Simkins. “A runner here and there. She did not allow them to carry any momentum. She did not pitch her best game, but she pitched well enough to keep them off balance.”
Overall, the Blazers move to 34-11. Their next series against the Lancers will be played in Riverside starting Friday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
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