The ACU Wildcat softball team used sound pitching and timely hitting to win two of three games last weekend from the Eastern New Mexico team, winning the series against the conference foe.
This marks the third consecutive series the team has won, and it is providing momentum as the regular season comes to a close.
The Wildcats (28-12, 14-8) won the opening game Friday 4-1 and the front end of the doubleheader 6-2 before falling 4-2 in the series’ rubber match.
“This was a big series win for us,” head coach Bobby Reeves said. “Anytime you can take two of three from a conference opponent, we’ll take it,” he said. “Obviously, we were hoping for a sweep, but we shot ourselves in the foot in the third game, and the Eastern New Mexico pitcher was solid throughout the game.”
In the opener Friday night, ACU starter Caitlyn Crain continued her dominance from the mound, throwing a complete game, four-hitter against the outmatched Zias. She had seven strikeouts and retired the first nine batters of the game. Not a single Zia reached base until the fourth inning, when Melanie Alderette hit a single.
“Most of pitches were working,” Crain said. “I was able to keep them off balance, and my defense played really well behind me. It was a total team effort.”
Eastern New Mexico then scored in the seventh on a sacrifice fly.
ACU’s run came by two, two-run homeruns by Erin Gilliland and Megan Brigance. Gilliland hit hers in the second, and Brigance followed in the fifth.
On Saturday, ACU opened with a 6-2 win behind a dominant performance by sophomore pitcher Peyton Mosley (11-5). Mosley threw six solid innings against the Zias, and the shutout was taken away in the seventh on a solo homerun off of Shelby Hall.
ACU scored all of its run in the third as it sent ten batters to the plate. Gilliland smoked a bases clearing double that scored three ACU runs.
In the nightcap, Eastern New Mexico decided they were going to leave Abilene’s friendly confines on a good note, as they won 4-2.
ACU led for most of the game after Keanna Winkfield scored runs in the first and third innings. But the Zias stood tall, as Josette Aguirre hit a solo homerun in the fourth to make it a 2-1 game. Aguirre came through again in the sixth, scoring the tying run on a single. Starter and winning pitcher Katie Ramsay (2-12) scored on Aguirre’s hit, and after her teammates scored twice more on Kuuleiokealoha VonSchriltz’ double to left-center gap, she retired six of the final seven Wildcats she faced.
“Going through innings like that is tough,” Reeves said. “But they’re going to happen. You just play for the next out and give it your best effort always.”
ACU had several opportunities to score early on in the game, but did not come through. A double play ended a threat in the first, and a runner was stranded at third with one out in the second inning.
“Seeing our offense not finish is something we’re not used to,” Reeves said. “They have been great all year, but we have to remember they are human and it’s part of the game. I have full confidence in them at all times.”
Then in the fourth, the Wildcats drew back-to-back leadoff walks only to see Ramsay rebound by the retiring the next three batters on two fly balls and a strikeout. ACU recorded just two more singles over the final three innings without advancing a runner past first.