The M State Lady Spartan softball team finally had a home game Tuesday and played two very good games against the #7 team in the nation, the St. Cloud Technical and Community College Cyclones. Entering the game, the Cyclones were a perfect 10-0 in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) Southern Division. The Lady Spartans took care of the perfect record in the first game, winning a thriller 5-4. In game two, the Lady Spartans fell behind 7-0 and 9-2 before rallying and eventually losing the game 9-7.
Game one was a very well-played game by both teams and the Lady Spartans made some outstanding defensive plays that changed the outcome of the game. Defensively, shortstop Macky Warne ranged far to her right and behind 3rd base in foul territory to make an outstanding grab to end a threat. Hannah Ekse has taken care of business in left field all year and she made her best catch of the season in a clutch situation. With two outs and runners on base, Hannah raced to her right to foul territory and made a sliding, circus catch to end the threat and the inning. Paige Schultz continued her improved play and made a nice grab on a twisting line drive to right field.
St. Cloud took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second but the Lady Spartans grabbed the lead back on a RBI single by Ashlee Rimpila and a sacrifice fly by McKenna Erickson for a 2-1 Lady Spartan lead. The Cyclones scored one in the top of the third to tie at 2-2 and one in the top of the fifth to take a 3-2 lead. Once again, the Lady Spartans answered. This time some quality at bats put runners on for Allie Stafki and she drilled a two run double to right center for 4-3 lead.
The Lady Spartans talked about adding an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth and they got it. After Ekse's great catch, she of course led lead off the next inning and roped a line drive to the base of the left center field fence for a double. She scored on a clutch RBI single by Rimpila to give the Lady Spartans a 5-3 lead.
They would need it as this very good Cyclone team knows how to win. They plated one run to make the score 5-4 before a very heads up play cut the tying run down at 3rd base to end the game.
Alexa Mortenson pitched a very strong game against a powerful lineup to pick up the complete game win and her 9th win of the season. Warne, Stafki and Rimpila each had two hits with Stafki and Rimpila collecting two RBI each.
The Cyclones used a big third inning to a 7-0 before the Lady Spartans got on the board with two of their own in the third to make the score 7-2. St. Cloud added a couple of more runs in the top of the fifth for a 9-2 lead before the Lady Spartans really got to work. In the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Spartans put four on the board, highlighted by a two run triple by Mortenson and an RBI single by Rylee Lindquist to cut the lead to 9-6. The Lady Spartans added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a Stafki single for a 9-7 score heading into the 7th inning. Mortenson shut the Cyclones down in the top of the seventh, helping her own cause by snagging a hard hit line drive and doubling the runner off first base to end the inning and get the Lady Spartans back in swinging.
By this time, the rain was falling harder and it was getting a little darker, but the Lady Spartans battled through it to give themselves a chance to win. They loaded the bases with two outs only to come up one hit short and lost the game 9-7.
Stafki had another big game collecting three hits and four runs batted in. Mortenson had three RBI and Warne had three hits.
The Lady Spartans are currently 11-10 on the season and 5-7 in the division. They have the rest of the week off before finishing at home with games next week Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.