Program-record 23 hits propels Jackets to Game 1 win - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Program-record 23 hits propels Jackets to Game 1 win

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After striking 19 total hits yesterday, the MSUB softball team set a program record, and tied the conference record, with a staggering 23 hits in the first game win against Western Washington 20-14. In the nightcap, both teams hit into the double-digits again, but this time the Vikings came out on top by one run, 10-9, at Avitus Group Stadium Saturday.

Montana State University Billings (9-19, 2-10 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) put up runs in every inning of the first game, scoring 20 runs on 23 hits with 18 RBI across the six innings in the box. The 23 hits breaks the record of 21 previously held by three teams (2011, 2015, 2015). The 18 RBI is one shy of the MSUB record from 2015.

“The Yellowjacket softball program has always been known for its offense and I am proud to be able to continue that tradition with our 2016 team,” MSUB head coach Rebekah Gasner said. “The team continues to get stronger at the plate each game and they are starting to trust in themselves and each other as teammates. Overall, it was a great day for us offensively at Avitus Group Stadium.”

Everyone in the Yellowjacket lineup recorded a hit in the two games. First baseman Cameron Cassinelli finished 4-for-7 at the plate with 3 runs, 5 RBI, and three home runs. Cassinelli now has 10 home runs on the season. Infielder Kelsey Devlin was 5-for-9, also with three home runs. Devlin had 5 runs and 5 RBI. Junior Bella Rovens finished 5-for-7 with a team-leading 6 runs. Sophomore Heather Tracy was 5-for-8, including a home run and a double with a team-leading 9 RBI.

“Our offense is seeing the ball really well at the plate,” Gasner commented. “We have worked a lot on situational hitting lately, so it is nice to see them finally have confidence in themselves to get the clutch hits with runners in scoring position.  That is something that we struggled with early on in the season; right now our focus has been to get runners on, move them over, and bring them in.  We had some more great performances at the plate from Heather, Nikki, and Cameron.  Bella and Myrissa also had great performances at the plate and on the field, with Bella saving another home run from going over the fence, and Kelsey stepping in for us in key situations as well. ”

For the Vikings, Alexie Levin was 6-for-8, Arianna Barrio 6-for-9, and Emily Benson 5-for-7 with 10 RBI. Levin scored seven runs. Western Washington kept its record even on the day, finishing at 15-15 overall and 10-10 in the GNAC.

Game 1: WWU 14, MSUB 20

The Vikings scored three runs in the opening half of the first inning to take the lead. MSUB added two runs, and after WWU added a single run in the top of the second inning, fired off four runs for a 6-4 lead. The Vikings fought back with four runs in the top of the third, but MSUB responded with six runs for a 12-8 lead at the end of three full innings.

In the bottom of the first, Gammon led off the Yellowjackets with a double. A single from Rovens put two runners in scoring position that designated player Nicole Tiffany brought home on a double to center field. In the second inning, Cassinelli hit her first home run of the day, a solo shot over right center. A double from Tracy plated two runs, and one more scored on a wild pitch from WWU.

Down by one, 7-6, MSUB put together one of its two largest innings of the day for six runs. Cassinelli crushed her second home run of the day, who had singled up the middle to lead off the inning. A double from catcher Haley Rowe and a walk from Rovens put two on base. Three straight singles from Tracy, Myrissa Prince, and Tiffany plated the last four runs of the inning to push MSUB out ahead 12-8.

The Vikings countered with six more runs in the next two innings, but the ‘Jackets were up for the challenge. MSUB added three in the fourth, one in the fifth, and four again in the sixth inning.

Tracy plated all three MSUB runs in the bottom of the fourth inning with a long double into center field. The shortstop, Katlyn Stringari, added a run with a RBI single in the fifth inning.

In the sixth inning, WWU’s McKenna Mathis reached base on a single into left field. Arianna Barrio hit another single into left field, but Gammon charged the ground ball, scooping it up and throwing the ball to Devlin at third base catching Mathis trying to advance two bases to third.

Ahead by two, 16-14, MSUB added four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Rovens singled, Tracy reached on an error and Prince singled to plate Rovens. Tiffany got on base with a fielder’s choice, but Tracy was thrown out at home. With two left on base, Devlin hit her first home of the day, a 3-RBI rocket over center field that ended the scoring for the ‘Jackets.

At the top of the seventh inning, MSUB’s Taylor Tokach got three straight infield outs.

In the circle, six pitchers, three from each team, went to work.

For MSUB, Amanda Roark led off the game with 2 innings. Megan Dettling (5-6) came in, tossing 2 and 2/3 innings, holding WWU to five runs on four hits, earning the win. Tokach tossed 2 and 1/3 innings for an effective one run on three hits to earn the save.

Western Washington’s Aspen Ison (1-2) tossed 3 and 1/3 innings, allowing eight earned runs on 13 hits.

Game 2: WWU 10, MSUB 9

The Yellowjackets led the game after three full innings, 7-5, but the Vikings were able to counter in the later innings with five runs to two from MSUB.

Gammon fought through seven pitches to draw a walk to lead off the offense in the first inning for MSUB. Rovens singled up the middle sending Gammon to third after she had advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two on base, Tracy smashed a 3-RBI home run over the center field fence.

In the second and third innings, the ‘Jackets added more runs each. Rowe scored on a single from Rovens and Gammon ran home on a wild pitch for the two runs in the second inning. In the third inning, Cassinelli smoked her third home run of the day that scored Devlin who was on first after an infield single.

In the top of third inning, Benson hit a big 3-RBI home run for the Vikings to take the lead back 8-7. A home run from shortstop Ashley Scott and one from pinch hitter Lynsey Amundsen proved to be the winning runs for WWU.

The Yellowjackets added a run in the fifth inning on a solo home run from Devlin. After the home run, WWU made a pitching change that had MSUB only reaching one more hit and run (Delvin’s next home run) in the game. MSUB left two runners on base in the fifth inning and one in the seventh inning. For the game, MSU stranded seven runners with WWU leaving 10.

Devlin came back up again in the bottom of the seventh inning for the ‘Jackets. She had been at the plate during the end of the sixth inning, but in what turned out to be a big out, a MSUB runner was caught stealing for the last out of the inning.

Devlin was sent up to the plate again to lead-off the last inning for the Yellowjackets. On her first pitch, the third baseman absolutely destroyed a ball that went above the rocks into the dirt above the left field fence wall for her second home run of the game, drawing MSUB to within a single run, 10-9. Cassinelli drew a walk to put the tying run on base before the next three batters were retired to end the game.

In the circle, Tokach (2-3) tossed 4 innings, scattering 11 hits and fanning one for the loss. Roark came in for 3 full innings, holding WWU to four hits and one run.

For WWU, Shayna Adelstein (1-2) earned the win tossing 4 innings, scattering 10 and fanning three. Shearyna Labasan finished the game in relief, tossing 3 innings, limiting MSUB to one run on one hit for the save.

“Overall, we are moving in a positive direction as a team,” Gasner said. “We have been battling injuries recently, and I think we have been adjusting well.  Both teams came out ready to hit this weekend and we were able to battle with them each inning. In the end, it just came down to who was going to come up with the most clutch hits late in the games.”

THE BUZZ:  Devlin earned St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day honors for the ‘Jackets…for the series, WWU and MSUB combined for 117 hits and 100 runs with 90 RBI…there were 17 doubles and 23 home runs in the two days.

UP NEXT: MSU Billings travels to California for the Tournament of Champions hosted by Stanislaus State. The Yellowjackets open up with a game against San Francisco State on Apr. 1, at 12:10 p.m. Pacific time.

“This week we will continue to focus on being more aggressive out on defense,” Gasner commented. “With the Tournament of Champions coming up this weekend, we will need to stay healthy and get ready for more strong competition within our region. “  

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