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The Antelope

Saturday sweep keeps tournament hopes alive

Junior Leah Jurgens stretches to field a throw at first during UNK’s doubleheader against Central Missouri Friday. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

UNK softball grabbed three crucial wins this weekend as they continue to battle for a spot in the MIAA Tournament. The Lopers split with Central Missouri on Friday and swept Lincoln on Saturday at Patriot Park.

Friday’s first matchup with the Jennies was scoreless through seven innings before junior outfielder Eden McNally hit a walk-off single to right field.

UNK head coach Katie Ackermann praised the team’s defensive effort and freshman pitcher Daniella Morillas’ performance on the mound in the 1-0 win over UCM.

“Daniella threw well and grinded through a couple of innings,” Ackermann said. “What really helped her today was our defense behind her. We made some really good plays, especially in right field on a couple of wind balls.”

Game one was a pitcher’s battle between Morillas and redshirt junior Page Petefish for the Jennies. Combined, the two pitchers allowed just five hits.

In the bottom of the eighth, redshirt junior catcher Jocelynn Molina singled to start off the inning. Her pinch runner, junior outfielder Kelsey Cordes, advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring the winning run on McNally’s single.

In game two, UCM pitcher Brooke Weimer held the Lopers scoreless as UCM won 8-0 in just five innings.

UNK celebrated their three seniors between the two games Friday. The Lopers honored outfielders Abbie Jo Gaube and Carly Dembowski and pitcher Madison Rosenthal.

“This is my first class all the way through,” Ackermann said. “They’ve just stuck with it: they’ve stuck with me, they’ve stuck with the process, they’ve just stuck with the things we’re trying to accomplish. I asked them to help me with our culture which needed to change over the last couple of year. They did that.”

On Saturday, the Lopers got the bats going against Lincoln, winning 4-1 and 10-2 (5 innings).

“Our bats came alive, and it feels good to get our first run-rule in a while,” Ackermann said. “Everyone fed information to each other, and we took it one pitch at a time. The more info we got, the better we saw things.”

Morillas dominated in game one, allowing just three hits and no walks on 96 pitches. The freshman now possesses a 9-10 record on the mound.

“Daniella continues to grind it out for us,” Ackermann said. “She’s earned her role in the circle and in back-to-back days the defense has played well behind her.”

The defense held the Blue Tigers in check Saturday, but it was the offense that stole the show. In game one, the Lopers scored in the first, fourth and fifth innings to build a 4-0 lead. McNally and junior infielder Rylyn Nelson led the Lopers with two hits each.

In game two, sophomore infielder Mary Chvatal went three-for-three at the plate and scored two runs while Nelson boasted five RBI’s thanks to a three-run blast to center field. Dembowski joined in on the pummel party with a triple to deep center field. The Lopers totaled 14 hits in just five innings.

UNK (18-24, 5-13) is currently in 11th place in the MIAA, trailing Fort Hays State by a single game. With just eight games remaining in the regular season, the Lopers are looking to build off of this weekend’s successes.

“We are such a momentum team that feeds off of good energy,” Ackermann said. “It will be exciting to get back to work next week because we know what’s in front of us.”

UNK will be back in action Friday against Newman before taking on No. 8 Central Oklahoma Saturday at Patriot Park.

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