Fort Lewis College finally had home-field advantage in a softball game for the first time this season.
The Skyhawks certainly used it to their advantage, too.
FLC (12-12, 8-6 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) swept the first of two home doubleheaders against Colorado Christian (9-12, 5-5 RMAC) on Saturday at Aspen Field on the FLC campus. The Skyhawks took the first game 6-3 and rallied to win the second 7-3 after tailing 3-0 after the top of the first inning.
“Every year we play Colorado Christian, it is always very competitive,” FLC head coach Kira Zeiter said. “We knew we had to come out and play good softball in all aspects. We did that as a team, and I am very proud of them.”
FLC hit three home runs in a controversy-filled fourth inning in the second game. Myndee Thompson reached on an error to start the Skyhawks’ rally. Two batters later, catcher Hayley Bolyard belted a two-run home run to cut the Cougars’ lead to 3-2.
“I love being able to contribute because sometimes I get in a slump,” Bolyard said. “It is nice when I can pop it up there and get some runs around.”
Kaitlyn Bending continued the rally when she hit a line drive comebacker to Colorado Christian pitcher Keely Gray, who was unable to make a play on the ball. FLC leadoff hitter Missy Fundora then hit a shot to left center field, and the ball appeared to land at the bottom of the outfield fence and squeeze under the chain-link fence. Colorado Christian’s outfielders put their arms in the air to signal a ground-rule double, but neither umpire saw how the ball left the yard, and it was ruled a home run, drawing a lengthy argument from Colorado Christian head coach Daven Bond.
Fundora’s home run gave FLC a 4-3 lead.
“It was questionable, I guess, but we’ll take it,” said Fundora, who was 3-for-4 at the plate in the game. “It is one of those where I didn’t really see it so I can’t say what it was, but I am glad the (umpires) favored our side of it, and I am glad I was able to get a rally going.”
Colorado Christian couldn’t regroup after the ruling. It wasn’t long before Destinee DeHerrera hit a three-run home run that scored Chelsea Rodriguez and Adriana Rosthenhausler to give FLC a 7-3 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“This team knows that no matter what the score they are never out of the game,” Zeiter said. “We can come with the bats. We expect, no matter what the score or inning, that we will come out with the (win).”
Katie Watkins (2-1) was credited with the win for FLC. She allowed three runs on eight hits, including a two-run home run by Colorado Christian’s Danielle Romine in the first inning. Watkins struck out two and didn’t issue a walk.
FLC pitcher Victoria Johnson (5-5) was dominant in the first game of the day. She struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings of work. She gave up six hits and three runs – two earned – while walking five. She was helped by solid defensive play behind her as the Skyhawks didn’t commit an error.
“It is not about me; it is about my team. As much as they back me up, I know I can just do my job in there,” Johnson said. “I have a lot of fun, and I think that translates to them behind me, as well.”
Olivia Goldberg relieved Johnson to pick up her first save of the season.
FLC did all of its scoring in the second and third innings after trailing 1-0 early.
Designated player Kamali’i Peneku started both scoring rallies with a single in the second inning and a solo home run to start the third inning. A Fundora double drove in a run in the second, and Rosthenhausler added an RBI single. FLC benefitted from two Colorado Christian errors in the inning.
Bolyard scored on a passed ball in the third inning after reaching on a single.
Rosthenhausler was 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. She was 2-for-4 with a run scored in the second game.
“She has been hitting the ball all year. It is one of those things where she gets up to the plate, and we are all confident in her, and she is confident in herself,” Zeiter said of her shortstop.
FLC will begin the second day of play against Colorado Christian at 11 a.m. Sunday. Feeling confident after two wins on a windy day Saturday, Zeiter hopes to see her Skyhawks continue to roll after winning five of their last six games.
“I think the whole team should be feeling good right now and ready to come out and take up right where we left off (Sunday) morning,” Zeiter said.