The Skyhawks squandered a chance to beat the top team in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference once Saturday, but they made sure it wouldn’t happen twice.
Emotionally driven after senior-day ceremonies, Fort Lewis College’s softball team (22-24, 18-16 RMAC) bounced back from a 13-8 loss in eight innings against UC-Colorado Springs (25-13, 21-10 RMAC) to beat the Mountain Lions 4-2 in the final game of a four-game series. UC-Colorado Springs won three of the four games at Aspen Field.
“We have to feel good how the four seniors went out (Saturday). They know that the first game a lot of things didn’t happen to go our way, but that’s the game of softball, and it’s like the game of life,” FLC head coach Kira Zeiter said. “They have to feel good now about the win, and I’m happy for them and proud of them for that.”
The Skyhawks led Saturday’s first game 8-2 going into the sixth inning, but the Mountain Lions rallied to tie it up in the top of the sixth, and the game went into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth inning, Jessica Belsterling hit a three-run home run to break the tie and provide UC-Colorado Springs the game’s winning runs.
The Mountain Lions hit three home runs in the game, as Dani Fonseca and Emily Jennings also hit homers in the sixth inning.
FLC recorded two quick outs in the troublesome top of the sixth, but Belsterling drew a bases-loaded walk to start the scoring. Jennings then hit a grand slam to clear the bases, before Fonseca followed with a solo shot as the Mountain Lions went back-to-back.
Victoria Johnson (9-9) took the loss in the circle for FLC. She pitched all eight innings and allowed 13 runs on 17 hits and four walks while striking out two.
FLC did most of its damage in a four-run third inning and a three-run fifth inning. FLC senior Kamali’i Peneku hit a three-run home run in the third.
“Going up there, I was really not even thinking. I hit the ball, and it went over,” Peneku said. “It felt really good. I hit that ball for this team.”
FLC senior Chelsea Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with a run batted in, a run scored and a stolen base. FLC shortstop Adriana Rosthenhausler was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. Myndee Thompson also went 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Skyhawks’ senior catcher Hayley Bolyard was 2-for-5.
Belsterling (11-3) earned the win in the circle for UC-Colorado Springs. She pitched five innings in relief of starter Korey Kulpins. Belsterling allowed only three hits. None of the three runs that crossed while she was pitching were earned.
In the fourth game of the series, FLC got out to a quick start by opening a 2-0 lead after one inning thanks to RBI singles from Jeovanna Rios and Thompson.
The Skyhawks added a third run in the fourth inning when Kaitlyn Bending hit a single to drive home Thompson.
FLC’s fourth run came as added insurance in the bottom of the sixth inning when a Bolyard bunt scored Thompson, who was 2-for-2 with a walk in the game.
The Mountain Lions scored one run in the top of the sixth, but the Skyhawks limited the damage by cutting one run down at the plate. Rodriguez fielded a grounder hit to third base and fired a throw to Bolyard, who blocked the plate and tagged out Belsterling. Bolyard took a pair of cleats to the thigh and sported ripped-up pants after the play.
“It was a good decision. I got some holes in my pants, but that’s all part of the game,” Bolyard said.
Rodriguez said her confidence in Bolyard to make the play left her no doubt where to throw the ball.
Kiley Raica (8-12) earned the win in the circle for FLC. She allowed two runs – one earned – on nine hits and two walks. She struck out one.
“Kiley did awesome. She was hitting her spots, and she was on fire,” Bolyard said. “I can’t say enough. Anything and everything you would want a pitcher to be in a game, she was on it.”
The Skyhawks have just four games remaining in the regular season, a pair of doubleheaders at Chadron State in Chadron, Neb., next weekend. FLC stands in seventh place in the RMAC standings, one game ahead of eighth-place Regis. UC-Colorado Springs fell to third in the standings behind first-place Colorado Mesa and second-place Metro State.
The top eight teams in the conference will reach the RMAC Tournament.
“Teams are so neck-and-neck. You just have to come up and play the hardest you can and play good softball,” Zeiter said. “We know we can always come out with that win.”