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Bouncing Back: Gosker’s homers prompt Loper victories

Katie Gosker leads the Lopers with 12 home runs.

The Loper softball team bounced back going 3-1 this weekend behind three home runs by Katie Gosker against Lincoln and Central Missouri after going 1-3 last week. 

With the second game against Central Missouri tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, Gosker drilled a bomb down the left field line that just stayed fair to give the Lopers the 3-1 lead. 

“I really just wanted to help our team out and help our pitchers out,”

Gosker hit the home run against Kyleigh Lay, who had UNK’s number all day and pitched a shutout in the Jennies’ 8-0 win in the first game. Her long 15-second wind-up that produced risers and tough inside pitches led to 13 strikeouts against the Lopers in game one. 

“She was throwing hard, firm, outside and hitting location,” said UNK coach Katie Ackermann. “Sometimes when you hit spots and limit walks, it’s really tough to put runners in scoring position.”

The last time UNK was eight-run ruled was against Arkansas Tech on Feb. 19, which happens when a team leads by eight runs after five innings. The Lopers found a way to put that past them and bounce back in game two.

“That first game was uncharacteristic of us, especially offensively,” Gosker said. “Game two we just wanted to reset and refocus. Stick to what we know and the process, and I think it turned out best in our favor.”

The day before, UNK took on Lincoln University. The Blue Tigers came into the doubleheader winless in MIAA play. 

With the Lopers up 3-2 in game one, the bats started connecting in the sixth inning. The Lopers scored seven runs with RBIs by Sydney Thomason, Bri Healy, Avery Wood and Sophia Junker. 

“They ended up re-entering their pitcher, and I think we just kind of made simple adjustments,” Ackermann said. “Our girls were just putting balls in play and getting runners in scoring position.”

With the 10-2 lead, UNK ended that game early in the sixth inning with the eight-run rule. The Lopers then got off to a hot start in game two as Thomason hit a two run single in the first inning. 

Stacy Bott pitched 5.2 innings for the Lopers only giving up a single run and striking out four batters. Bott stepped up for Kelsey Goodban, who was one of four Lopers who left the team earlier in the week.

“That was the most extended innings she’s had this season, so to see her get all the way to the sixth inning really helps us out for the rest of the season,” Ackermann said.

Madison Rosenthal came in relief for Bott to get the last four outs, striking out three batters. UNK won 6-1 as Abby Vodicka hit two RBIs and Carlee Leisch had an RBI triple for the Lopers.

The Lopers improved to 22-18 on the weekend and 12-6 in the conference putting them in fourth place. UNK will face a tough task on Friday taking on MIAA-leading Central Oklahoma with a 17-1 conference record.

“That’s gonna be tough,” Ackermann said. “We’re gonna have to really piece that one together and get clean defensively. Limit walks on the mound and then offensively, we’re just gonna have to trust that we can make adjustments early on in the game.” 

The doubleheader will take place at Patriot Park and the Lopers will also welcome Newman into town on Saturday.

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GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
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