Bison softball win three of last four in Puerto Vallarta; improve to 4-6 on the season

NDSU fares better in second half of the College Challenge

Vargas dominant in circle as Bison defeat Sacramento State 4-1

The last time the Bison took the field on Monday against Ole Miss, Bison senior pitcher Paige Vargas did not have a career-defining performance as she took the loss while surrendering five runs on five hits and three walks. In the Bison’s first game since their brief two-day hiatus, Vargas toed the rubber again and this time around she brought her A-game. In seven innings, Vargas allowed just one run on three hits while fanning seven batters.

The Bison offense was able to give Vargas a little extra cushion with a run in the first inning. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage got the ball rolling with a base hit through the left side. That wasn’t all as the ball got past Hornets left fielder Haley Hanson and Aguilar came all the way around to score the game’s first run.

The Bison bats would go cold after the first inning but that one run was all Vargas needed for a while. The California native sent down the first 10 batters of the game and did not allow a hit until the 5th inning. That is when the Hornets would get going as they tied the game at one with an RBI single from Hornets shortstop Nikki Barboza.

That would be all the success the Hornets’ offense could muster as they would not record a hit the rest of the game after three knocks in the fifth. The Bison offense answered quickly in the bottom half of the inning, first with a triple from Ella Claus followed by a 2-run blast to centerfield by Emilee Buringa; her first home run of the season. Two batters later, Aguilar-Beaucage doubled and Reanna Rudd singled her home to expand the lead to 4-1.

That was all Vargas would need to finish the game. The Hornets would get a couple of batters to reach but to no avail. Vargas got Barboza to ground out, ending the game for NDSU’s second win of the season.

The Bison recorded a season-high 10 hits and tied their season-high in runs with four. The Herd would next be set to face Southern Illinois on Friday, February 17 at 10 AM.

Herd win second straight with a 5-3 victory over Southern Illinois

In hopes of putting together a few wins, the Bison softball team returned to the diamond to face the Southern Illinois Salukis on Friday morning before they took on #11 Tennessee later in the day.

The Herd replicated the same offensive performance they produced the day before with three runs in the first inning. After centerfielder Emilee Buringa reached on an error to start the game, the Bison’s RBI and batting average leader Carley Goetschius drove in Buringa with an RBI double to center field.

The next batter, Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage continued to make an impact in the early stages of her Bison career as she knocked in Goetschius in with a single to left. After reaching second on the throw home and advancing to third on a wild pitch, Aguilar scored on a groundout from Reanna Rudd, and just like that the Bison lead was 3-0 in the first inning.

The Salukis couldn’t get much cracking off Bison pitcher Lainey Lyle as they connected on just two hits through the first four innings. The Bison had shown glimpses of hope after the first inning but couldn’t put anything together until the fifth. After Bella Dean and Skylar Padgett reached via a walk and hit by pitch respectively, Dean would eventually score on a wild pitch to extend the Herd’s advantage to 4-0. The Bison eventually loaded the bases with one out despite not recording a hit in the inning but stranded all three runners.

The momentum Southern Illinois gained from escaping the bases-loaded jam continued into their half of the inning. With the bases loaded and one away, Rylie Hamilton got the Salukis on the board with a sacrifice fly to right field. The next batter, Anna Carder drove in a pair with a single to left center. The Bison would get out of the inning, but their lead was trimmed to just 4-3.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Bison would add a little bit of insurance before the Salukis came to hit again. With runners on the corners and two outs, Goetschius came through again, recording her third hit of the day and second RBI with a single to the left side, to extend the Bison lead to 5-3, the most runs the Bison have scored so far this season.

With the two-run lead, Paige Vargas finished the seventh inning unscathed as she picked up the save via two strikeouts and a groundout. The second-straight win moved the Bison to 3-5 before they took on Tennessee just moments later.

Bison bats shut down by #11 Tennessee; fall 8-0

After notching their second win in a row, the Bison returned to the field just moments following their 5-3 win over SIU to face the highly-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The Bison have not beaten a top-25 team since 2018 and that did not change on Friday afternoon as they only recorded two hits on the day while the Vols registered 11 to their total.

Despite the lack of support by the Bison offense, senior pitcher Lainey Lyle was able to keep the 0-0 tie intact with a brisk first inning and escape a jam in the second. It would be the bottom of the third inning when the Vols started to unleash their offense. Kiki Milloy got the party started with a solo blast to center for the first run of the game. Mackenzie Donihoo followed that up with a double and Bison Head Coach Darren Mueller had seen enough and pulled Lyle for Piper Reed.

The #11 team in the country didn’t let up and McKenna Gibson gave Reed a rude awaking with a 2-run home run to right field. Just like that it was 3-0 Tennessee within a blink of an eye.

Both teams went down without a fight for the next couple of innings until the Volunteers picked it back up in the bottom of the fifth. The first seven batters of the inning reached base; four with hits and three by walks. After the fifth batter of the inning drove in a run to extend the lead to 6-0, Mueller pulled Reed for Savy Williams.

Williams didn’t fare much better as she allowed an inherited runner to score on an RBI single but eventually got out of a bases-loaded jam. However, the damage had been done and the Volunteer lead had ballooned to 7-0 after a four-run, four-hit inning.

The Bison would pick up just their second hit of the game in the top of the sixth, but it produced no runs. Emilee Buringa flew out and Tennessee needed just one run to end the game. With runners at first and third, Giulia Koutsoyanopulos reached on an infield single to plate a run, clinching an 8-0 win for the Vols.

Karlyn Pickens picked up the win for Tennessee and Lainey Lyle recorded the loss for the Herd as she dropped to 1-3 in the young season. The win marks the 995th victory for Tennessee Head Coach Karen Weekly with the program. Weekly recorded her 1,000th career win in 2017 but is now just five wins away from that number since coming to Knoxville, Tenn. in 2002.

The loss dropped the Bison to 3-6 with one more game in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge against Cal State-Fullerton at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Vargas dominant in circle to lead Bison over Cal State-Fullerton 2-1

Throughout the entirety of North Dakota State’s trip to Mexico, the Bison pitching staff has discovered that they have some work to do. That is except for fifth-year senior Paige Vargas. Through her first six appearances of the season, Vargas put up a 1.79 ERA over the course of 27.1 innings pitched. In hopes of galvanizing a Bison team vying for some prolonged success, Vargas delivered on Saturday afternoon.

That success wouldn’t be delivered immediately, however. The Titans got off to a quick start as they brought across their first and only run of the game in the first frame. With a runner in scoring position, third baseman Hannah Becar hit a ground-rule double to center field to give the Titans a 1-0 lead. Although she allowed three hits in the inning, Vargas got out of the inning surrendering just one run.

The Bison answered right back in the bottom half of the inning. The Herd’s two best hitters thus far, Carley Goetschius and Grand Canyon University transfer Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage, got things going with a single and double, respectively. Cleanup hitter Reanna Rudd then drove Goetschius in with a sac fly to center field to tie the game at one.

Cal State-Fullerton would proceed to record three hits in the top of the second inning, but largely thanks to a putout at second, no runs came across. That would be all the success CSUF could muster the rest of the contest as they recorded just one hit in the final five innings.

The Bison bats would get on the board again two innings later in the bottom half of the third courtesy of Goetschius and Aguilar-Beaucage. Following a two-out double by Goetschius, Aguilar-Beaucage ripped a single to center field for an RBI that extended the lead to 2-1.

That would be all the help Vargas would need as she shut down the Titan offense from there. CSUF would reach base just twice more during the rest of the game. The Bison offense couldn’t get any insurance runs, but it didn’t matter. Vargas started the top of the seventh inning with two straight K’s before a lineout ended the game.

The Herd won three of their last four games at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge to improve to 4-6 on the season after starting 1-5. Following a long trip away, the Bison return home for a bit before hitting the road again to Auburn, Ala. for the Plainsman Invite. The Bison will play five games from Feb. 24-26 starting with Merrimack at 10 a.m. on Friday, February 24 with a game against Brown to follow.

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