The ACU Wildcat softball team avoided a sweep by scoring six runs in the second inning Saturday afternoon en route to an 8-3 win against Midwestern State to salvage the last game of a three-game series in Wichita Falls.
The Wildcats had lost the first two games 5-2 and 7-0 in a doubleheader Friday prior to the series finale Saturday, which signaled the end of the regular season.
“Winning the game Saturday was a big deal for us for two reasons,” head coach Bobby Reeves said. “For one, you never want to be swept. And two, it’s always nice to end the regular season on a high note because it builds confidence for what is to come.”
Abilene Christian ends the regular season with a record of (29-15, 15-11) and claimed the No. 5 seed for the Lone Star Conference Post-Season Tournament, which will begin Friday in Denton. ACU will play No. 4 seed West Texas A&M at 4:30 Friday.
After being blanked 7-0 in the first game Friday, the ACU offense took little time sulking in the past, as the offensive onslaught began early in the final game of the series. ACU had nine hits and six runs in the first two innings against MSU pitcher Lindsi Glenn. All of the runs and eight of the nine hits came in the second inning.
“You know, our offense is special,” Reeves said. “When they get rolling, they are almost impossible to stop. The trickle-down effect definitely came into play those first two innings and everyone was getting hot at the plate.”
Sophomore Lyndi Smith led off the second with a double, advanced to third base on a wild pitch and then scored the game’s first run on a single by senior Erin Gilliland. Senior Brianna Fowlkes then hit a homerun to left field, making it a 3-0 game.
Outfielders Keanna Winkfield and Madison Buckley reached on back-to-back singles before sophomore Sara Vaughn drove In Winkfield on a double. Sophomore Courtney Flanary then hit a single, driving in Buckley. Second baseman Kim Briggs brought a halt to the scoring with a sacrifice fly to make it a 6-0 game.
ACU added another run in the fourth on a Smith RBI single, and then scored one more time in the fifth on a Buckley RBI double.
Junior Shelby Hall (5-2) threw a complete game, scattering 12 hits over her seven innings of work. Hall did not allow a walk and used the defense behind her to its full potential, instigating a plethora of ground ball outs.
“Our defense came to play. They made a lot of really good plays behind me and made my job easy,” Hall said. “I feel like I can throw anything with them out there to back me up. Having them behind me is a huge confidence booster as a pitcher.”
In the opening game of the doubleheader Saturday, Mustang pitcher Brenna Hennan, freshman, threw a complete game, shutout, limiting ACU to a slim six hits en route to a 7-0 loss.
Junior Caitlyn Crain started on the mound for ACU, but she gave up six hits and four runs (three earned) in just 2.2 innings of work. Sophomore Peyton Mosley gave up three runs and four hits in 2.1 innings before Hall finished up by throwing one inning of scoreless relief work.
MSU scored two runs in the first inning, single runs in the second, third and fifth innings, and then two more in the sixth inning.
In Friday’s game, MSU came out of the box quickly and jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the third inning, holding on to win 5-2.
Midwestern State scored all of its runs on six hits against Mosley, but only managed one more over the final three innings against Crain, who came into the game in relief.
Flanary accounted for both of ACU’s runs as she plated two on a two RBI single in the fifth inning.