SMU closes out regular-season with back-to-back one-run losses to UW-RF
RIVER FALLS, Wis. For the Saint Mary's University fastpitch softball team, there was good news and there was bad news Wednesday afternoon.
The bad news? The Cardinals dropped both ends of their regular-season doubleheader against the Falcons, falling 3-2 and 2-1.
The good news? The Cardinals get to start things all over on Friday, when they open post-season play in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament against Gustavus.
"This wasn't quite the way we were hoping to end the regular season," admitted SMU coach Jen Miller. "We hit the ball well and we got good pitching in the first game but we struggled in the field and that cost us.
"In the second game, we got good pitching again, but our (defensive) struggles continued, and offensively, we didn't hit well at all, which was disappointing."
The Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead, getting an RBI sacrifice fly from Tara Close (North St. Paul, Minn.) in the first inning and a solo home run from Nikki Jung (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) her team-leading sixth HR of the season in the third.
But the Falcons knotted things up with two runs in the fourth, taking advantage of a Cardinal error to plate their two runs. The Falcons then iced the win in the bottom of the eighth, getting an RBI double from Kerri Feller to ice the win.
The Falcons jumped on SMU starter Megan Wallisch (Loveland, Colo.) for a pair of unearned runs in the first inning in the nightcap, while the Cardinals managed just a single run in the third on a Jung sacrifice fly as SMU lost its third straight nonconference game.
"We need to be better than we were today if we hope to make any noise at the conference tournament this weekend," said Miller. "We can't afford to waste good pitching like we did (against UW-River Falls). Defensively we are not as sharp as we need to be, and that's something we are going to have to correct and fast."