Wildcat softball was back in action this weekend in a three-game series against the University of Central Arkansas Bears.
The Wildcats were coming off of one of their biggest wins of the season Tuesday when they rallied from four runs down to defeat UT- Arlington on the road 7-6. The ‘Cats were hoping this momentum would carry through to the UCA games, but lost three close games against the Bears, tied for first in the Southland.
After unpredictable weather shuffled the schedule several times, the first game was played Friday at 8 p.m.
Freshman infielder Peyton Hedrick continued her outstanding season this weekend, almost hitting a walk-off home run against the Bears, but unfortunately an error would cause Hedrick to miss out on scoring.
The Bears have the top pitcher in the Southland Conference, Kylee Studioso. Studioso would have 12 strikeouts against the ‘Cats in Friday’s match, but couldn’t completely shut down ACU’s bats.
The Wildcats would jump to a 2-0 lead in the third and carry it through to the fifth. Their defense started to falter in the sixth when senior pitcher Emily Seidel gave up a leadoff home run followed by a single then a double.
Junior pitcher, Julia Montoya would come in to relieve Seidel after the fifth. Montoya would retire the next five batters after allowing UCA to score on a run in the bottom of the fifth.
Unfortunately, Montoya would walk a runner and that would end up being UCA’s final run of the game.
ACU wouldn’t lose their intensity though. The ‘Cats came within one run of tying the game when freshman outfielder Kristin Watkins drove in junior infielder Demi McNulty to put the score at 5-4 with the odds in UCA’s favor. But the rally ended before the ‘Cats could plate the tying run, ending the game at 5-4.
The ‘Cats came back ready for a double-header Saturday, but rain allowed them to play only one.
Montoya started on the mound, quickly get into a pitching duel with Studioso for the first five innings of the game. She would strand a single base runner in each of the first three innings. Montoya would also record two quick strikeouts in the fifth.
However, she would go on to surrender three hits at the start of the sixth, including a home run that gave the Bears a 4-2 lead.
Seidel then came in for Montoya with one out in the sixth, but loaded the bases on walks before getting a fly ball out and a ground out. However, a wild pitch resulted in two runs, ending the sixth at a 6-2 score.
ACU wouldn’t go down quietly though. Hedrick prove why she is one of the top hitters in the conference by slamming a two-run hit that put the ‘Cats back in the game with a 6-4 score. Seidel retired three batters in a row in the seventh. But Studioso also had a scoreless seventh against the ‘Cats, ending the game at 6-4.
Sunday would hold the final game of the series with UCA looking to sweep ACU.
ACU would come out strong with junior catcher Cara Hoover hitting a leadoff single. The Wildcats capitalized on pitching errors by the Bears.
Freshman Kristin Watkins and sophomore Lakin Carpenter would score off a bad throw by Bears shortstop Hayley Parker. ACU would take the lead 5-4 and would add one more run to the boards before Bears pitcher Studioso silenced the ‘Cats.
The ‘Cats held a 6-4 lead going into the seventh, but with bases loaded and two outs, the Bears scored three on a single to left field that got past Watkins. Studioso struck out three in a row in the bottom of the seventh to end the game, 7-6.
The losses drop ACU to 1-8 in conference and 5-12 overall, while UCA maintains a perfect conference record at 9-0.
The Wildcats will continue their home stand with a non-conference game Wednesday against UT-Arlington at 6 p.m. Conference play will resume Friday against McNeese State in another three-game home series. First pitch is at 4 p.m.