Sugar Bears Softball (21-11, 5-3 SLC) opened the home portion of its Southland Conference season with a series of three close games against the Abilene Christian Wildcats (12-13, 6-2 SLC), and won two of the three games played on March 25 and 26.
Coach David Kuhn is proud of how well the team played this week.
“Our team had a great week,” Kuhn said. “We beat a great team in ACU…our team did an awesome job winning the series.”
UCA took the first game with a score of 4-1 after jumping out with the lead early.
The first run was scored in the second inning by junior left fielder Hannah Stirton when sophomore infielder Audrey Pratt hit a double to left field. Another run was scored by Pratt when sophomore shortstop Kate Myers hit a double out to left field.
The Wildcats scored in the third inning when sophomore infielder Peyton Hendrick hit a single up the middle to bring senior infielder Demi McNulty home.
The Sugar Bears took an even bigger lead when Stirton had her second hit of the night and brought senior second baseman Sarah Bigej home.
The final run was a home run by senior center field Amy Gunnells in the fourth inning. The
homer was Gunnell’s third home run this season.
In the nightcap of the double header, UCA fell behind in the eighth inning of the game and losing 3-2.
For most of the game, the Sugar Bears were in the lead scoring a run in the second and third inning.
Gunnells stole second, which allowed Pratt to steal home and score the first run. Stirton scored the second run when junior utility Bailey Reynolds hit a single.
Abilene started to catch up in the seventh inning when senior catcher Cara Hoover reached a fielder’s choice and brought sophomore infielder Holly Neese home. Casey-May Huff reached on a fielding error by the shortstop and sophomore outfielder Brianna Barnhill scored.
In the eighth inning, Neese hit up the middle and Hendrick scored to take the lead and win the game.
The third game of the series against ACU was the most entertaining as it decided who took the series. The game lasted a long 12 innings and both teams went back and forth for the majority of the game.
UCA started with the lead early, with scoring two runs in the first inning. Stirton hit a single to the left field and junior outfielder Briana Whisenhunt scored. Reynolds hit a single to center field to bring Bigej home.
ACU started its catch-up in the third and fourth inning with Neese hitting a double bringing in Hendrick to score. Sophomore infielder Baylee Travers homered to left field and freshman infielder Miranda Herron scored the second run.
UCA took the lead once again in the sixth when Myers hit a single to left center and Stirton scored the third run.
ACU caught up in the seventh when Brianna Barnhill hit a double to right center and Hendrick tied up the score.
UCA scored in the seventh inning as well when Stirton hit a single and Whisenhunt scored with bases loaded.
Neither team scored until the 10th inning when each team scored a run. The Wildcats scored two runs in the eleventh inning and the Sugar Bears scored one.
The Sugar Bears took the lead and won the game when they scored two runs in the final inning after a long battle.
Red-shirt freshman catcher Cheyenne Kuhn believes teamwork has been the key to success during the last few games.
“We have been having a lot of quality team wins lately because everybody knows their roles on the team and contributes some way,” Kuhn said. “We had good pitching, good defense and timely hitting that helped us win this series.”
The Sugar Bears will return to Farris Field April 1 and 2 for an SLC series with Nicholls State.
This article originally appeared in the March 30, 2016 print edition of The Echo.
image via UCA Sports