The Herd’s struggles against SDSU continue
Bison drop opener to Jacks 4-0 in a walk-heavy contest
Each of the past two weekends, the North Dakota State softball team dropped the opening game of the series before finishing strong with a doubleheader sweep. Yet again, the Bison dropped the opening game of a three-game set this time to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The Jacks took game one of the series in a battle of aces between NDSU’s Paige Vargas and SDSU’s Tori Kniesche. Although Kniesche walked seven Bison batters, Vargas surrendered six free passes herself in the loss.
Despite drawing a base runner each inning, NDSU was unable to push any across the plate on Sunday afternoon. A single in the first, two walks in the second, two walks and a single in the third, and a walk in the fourth were all nullified by Kniesche and the Jacks to preserve a 0-0 tie.
However, Vargas kept SDSU in check during the first three innings with five strikeouts and a line drive double play to keep the game at 0-0 entering the fourth.
The Jacks entered the scoring column in the bottom half of the fourth as the bulk of their batting order came through in the clutch. A leadoff walk by Allison Yoder allowed the middle of the SDSU order to score. Two batters after a Jocelyn Carrillo single, right fielder Emma Osmundson singled through the right side to plate Yoder for the game’s first run.
After Kniesche mowed down the Herd the following frame, Vargas ran into big trouble in the following half. Vargas sent the first hitter down on strikes but then struggled to find the zone for the next several batters.
A pair of walks, along with an error in the infield, allowed SDSU to amplify its lead. They would do so as Rozelyn Carrillo knocked in a run with a base hit to left field. South Dakota State would plate two more runs as Vargas walked both Jocelyn Carrillo and Lindsey Culver with the bases full. NDSU would escape the inning with another lineout that turned into a double play, but the damage was done, and the Herd trailed 4-0 with just two innings remaining.
Vargas sent down the Jacks in the sixth as she recorded her final two strikeouts of the day, but the Bison bats could gain no traction. A two-out walk in the sixth was quickly negated by a pop-out on the following pitch but the Bison had the top of the order due up in the seventh.
After two strikeouts to start the inning, Carley Goetschius doubled into right centerfield to keep the game alive. However, Kniesche ended the game with a strikeout of Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage.
The Bison drew seven walks on Sunday, Ava Chavarria drawing three of them, but stranded nine baserunners. Paige Vargas recorded the loss and fell to 12-7 on the season as she pitched six innings allowing five hits while striking out a season-high nine batters. However, she allowed four runs (three earned) and a season-high six walks.
Big 4th inning allows SDSU to win game two, 12-3
Late Monday morning, the Bison looked to get back on track. With Lainey Lyle taking the ball for NDSU and Tori Kniesche not throwing in this contest for SDSU, the Herd’s chances looked good before the first pitch.
North Dakota State got on the board right away as their top hitters came through. Third baseman Carley Goetschius got the rally started with an infield single which was followed by a walk to Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage that extended her on-base streak to 14 games. Driving in both runners was freshman Bella Dean as she cranked a 2-run double into left-center field. Before Lyle took the field, the Bison had a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the frame, South Dakota State responded thanks to a couple of walks and an error on North Dakota State. With three runners on due to those blunders, Emma Osmundson came through with a key two-out hit to left field. The base knock brought in a pair of runners to tie the game 2-2.
While the second inning was quiet, the Bison snatched the lead back in the third. On the inning’s first pitch, Carley Goetschius went opposite field as she lifted a home run over the right field wall. The Bison were then retired in order, but Goetschius’ sixth home run of the season gave NDSU the lead back 3-2.
Lyle sent the Jacks down swiftly in the third, but the fourth inning turned into a fiasco. Following a leadoff double, Lyle retired the next two batters to inch closer to exiting the frame. Lyle, however, walked the following batter to put two runners aboard. The number nine-hitter, Brooke Dumont, then reached on an error by Goetschius, just her second of the season, allowing an SDSU runner to score and tie the game.
The error then snowballed on the Bison as leadoff hitter Mia Jarecki hit a 3-run home run to left field that took all the wind out of the sails for NDSU, and they now trailed 6-3. The onslaught continued as the next three batters all singled off Lyle, the last of which was by Jocelyn Carrillo to further the Jacks’ lead to 7-3.
Lyle was then relieved for Piper Reed but that did not stop the bleeding. A double by Lindsey Culver brought in two more runs completing the line on the day for Lyle. In 3 2/3 innings, the senior allowed six hits, nine runs, and three walks while striking out just one as she fell to 10-5 on the year. However, none of the nine runs were earned which keeps her earned runs streak intact at 23.2 innings.
Already leading 9-3, South Dakota State kept attacking as an RBI single by Osmundson, an RBI triple from Alli Boyle, and an RBI double from Alexa Williams swelled the SDSU lead to 12-3. With just three outs to record and allowing one run or fewer with the eight-run rule in effect, the Jacks would walk away with a win following the 10-run, 9-hit inning.
After starting pitcher Shannon Lasey pitched the first four innings for South Dakota State, Alexa Williams came in to close things out in the fifth. Despite the top of the order due for NDSU, Williams retired the side in order with a groundout and a couple of strikeouts.
NDSU had already lost the series but still had an opportunity to avoid a sweep in the final game of the series.
SDSU blanks NDSU for the second time in the series to complete the sweep with a 1-0 win
As Paige Vargas and Tori Kniesche returned to the circle for their respective teams, each squad’s bats went silent, and the teams were unable to score for much of the game. That is until late in the contest when NDSU allowed yet another unearned run. The Bison then had a runner thrown out at the plate in the seventh that essentially ended the game marking the 10th straight time the Bison have fallen to the Jacks.
Each hurler started the game a bit rattled as they allowed at least one runner to reach scoring position in the first inning. For the Bison, leadoff batter Emilee Buringa was stranded at second after three consecutive swinging strikeouts. The Jacks had an even better opportunity as a double and two walks had them in a prime position to score with just one out. However, Vargas eluded the jam by inducing a pair of pop-outs to end the inning.
Through the next three innings, neither team could muster any success offensively as they each recorded one base runner and struck out a combined 11 times.
The Bison would threaten in each of the fifth and sixth innings with runners on first and second but two strikeouts in the fifth and a strikeout and flyout in the sixth ended the threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Jackrabbits put up the game’s first run thanks to Bison miscues yet again. With one out Jocelyn Carrillo singled and after Lindsey Culver flew out, she advanced to second and third on consecutive passed balls on Kaylee Moore. Despite having two strikes on her, Emma Osmundson took advantage of the miscue and drove in Carrillo with a base hit to right field that gave her team a late 1-0 lead.
In the top of the seventh, the Bison were left with one final opportunity to tie the game. Ava Chavarria worked the count and drew a walk to lead off the inning and was subsequently advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Skylar Padgett.
Up next was right fielder Chloe Woldruff, who in her first two at-bats went down on strikes. However, the sophomore ripped NDSU’s second hit of the day with a base hit into right field. Chavarria rounded third and was headed home but Osmundson, who gave SDSU the lead the inning prior, preserved the advantage by throwing Chavarria out at the plate.
Emilee Buringa flew out on the very next pitch and after being oh-so-close to tying the game, the Bison had suffered a sweep against their biggest rival for the third straight season.
Paige Vargas picked up her second loss of the series to fall to 12-8 on the season. However, she pitched well through six innings allowing four hits, three walks, and one unearned run while striking out seven. The Bison bats could not get rolling as they had just two hits for the game and struck out 12 times.
After winning nine of their last eleven games, North Dakota State falls to 23-16 on the season and 7-5 in Summit League play which puts them fourth place behind SDSU, South Dakota and Omaha. The Bison will hit the road again next week as they travel to St. Thomas for a three-game set. The Bison and Tommies will play a doubleheader Saturday starting at noon and the series finale on Sunday at 11 a.m.