North Dakota State’s softball team dropped four of their last seven games, including two of three to Summit League combatants South Dakota this past week.
NDSU opened with a 8-0 throttling of South Dakota in the first half of a doubleheader on Friday.
The dominant pitching continued for the Bison, as KK Leddy surrendered just three hits in the shutout.
A scoring onslaught buoyed Leddy’s gem, spearheaded by second baseman Zoe Stavrou’s four RBIs. Her sacrifice fly in the first inning put the Bison ahead.
The Bison batted around the order in the second inning and Stavrou’s two singles scored three runs. Her double in the sixth inning drove in leftfielder Stephanie Soriano to cap off a 2-3 day at the dish.
Vanessa Anderson also chipped in two RBIs. Her bases loaded walk in the fifth inning led to the mercy rule being instituted, concluding the first of Friday’s two games.
The run scoring dried up for the Bison in the remaining two games of the three-game set with the Coyotes, however. USD blanked the Herd 1-0 in the second half of the doubleheader.
Jacqueline Sertic went toe-to-toe with Coyotes’ pitcher Rachel Cue in Friday’s second game. The Bison were unable to find a way to score off of Cue. USD scored the game’s only run in the fourth inning on shortstop Shelby Keil’s run-scoring double. The double spoiled what was otherwise another sensational performance from Sertic, but the Bison’s hapless offense was not able to score any runs to support her.
The Bison managed only four hits in the defeat.
South Dakota stifled the Bison once again on Saturday, downing NDSU 7-0. Cue one-upped herself, limiting the Herd to only three hits and striking out three batters with an efficient 95 pitches.
Before hosting USD, the Bison made a Tuesday trip to Grand Forks to take on in state rivals North Dakota. Behind Sertic’s 15 strikeouts, the Herd clipped the Fighting Hawks, 3-1.
NDSU scored two early runs in the second inning to boost their cause. Julia Luciano drove in a run on an RBI single and Dani Renner reached on an error later in the inning to plate Luciano.
The two runs were enough for Sertic, who dazzled once again. Sertic hurled a complete game, and along with her 15 strikeouts, allowed only three hits and no walks.
Renner laced a run scoring single in the sixth inning to tack on a crucial insurance run. Her two hits and two RBI led the Bison.
At the midway point in the conference schedule, NDSU faces an uphill climb if they are to clinch their sixth consecutive regular season championship.
The two losses to South Dakota marked the second time this season NDSU has lost a series in Summit League play, something the Herd have not done since 2010. To put it into perspective, four schools, which are no longer in the conference, were Summit League members in 2010, Oakland, Centenary, Southern Utah and Missouri-Kansas City.
Especially concerning is that the two series losses have both taken place at home. The Bison have lost four home games this season, something they have not done since 2012. Still, with Sertic’s elite pitching, NDSU will still be front-runners for the Summit League title, so long as their hitting can provide her and Leddy with enough run support.
After the USD series, the Bison sit at 5-4 in conference play, third in the standings. The field is chasing No. 1 Western Illinois, whom they’ll face this upcoming weekend.