After the way the Orediggers fared in close games this season, a three run walk off homerun was just what the doctor ordered as Mines outlasted Regis 7-4 to earn the series split Saturday at the CSM Softball field in Golden, CO.
In their 40 previous games played, Mines had lost 20 games, an astounding nine of which had come in the final inning, and many where the Orediggers were leading and poised for the win. They had lost seven games, sometimes consecutively, on the final play of the game. But this time it was Mines’ turn.
Down to their final two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Sarah Lustgraaf earned an infield single to advance to first, and Molly Thiebaut drew a walk immediately after to bring up true freshman Cassie Ford with two on and the winning run in scoring position. But the runners didn’t matter as Ford drilled the second pitch over the left field wall to end the game.
In the previous three games of the series, Ford had combined to go just 1-5 with one walk and one hit. In the final game, the freshman exploded, going 3-4 with a single, double and run scored to go with her walk off home run, the second of her career.
“I started to trust myself more,” said Ford. “I was too tight the first game and I was thinking way too much…to me I can’t think, I just gotta do.”
Ford’s mantra helped, leading Mines to their 21st win of the season with just under two weeks remaining in the regular season.
The win gave Mines the 2-2 series split with the Rangers, but the series was defined by Regis ace Nikki Haberkorn. In the two games Haberkorn pitched, Mines was was held scoreless and earned only eight hits. However, in the two other games, the Orediggers came back, scoring 13 runs on 19 hits.
Haberkorn pitched the shutout in the first game, giving Regis the 3-0 win. And although the game was dominated by the Regis pitcher, Oredigger starting pitcher Kelly Unkrich had her own stellar performance, pitching a complete game and surrendering just three runs in the loss.
In the second game Mines starting pitcher Ashley Goletz turned in a complete game, giving up just one run on three hits. Sarah Lustgaaf highlighted the offensive statistics, finishing a perfect 3-3 with two singles and a triple.
In the third game, Unkrich pitched an even better game for the Orediggers, but was once again overshadowed by Haberkorn, who shut out the Orediggers for the second time in the series. Regis outlasted Mines 2-0.
After going 2-2 over the weekend, Mines improved to 21-20 on the year. The Orediggers currently sit in fourth place in the RMAC standings, just two games behind CSU-Pueblo and Colorado Mesa with 10 games remaining. The top eight teams advance to the RMAC Championship Tournament with an opportunity to compete for a National Championship. Last season Mines was eliminated just one game away from the championship game in the RMAC Tournament, but still advanced to the NCAA Tournament. If the Orediggers earn a place in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, it will be just their third appearance in school history.
Mines continues their season with a four game series at Western New Mexico followed by a brief, two game series against UCCS before returning home to close out the season. The season ends with a critical four game homestand against Colorado Mesa April 21 and 22.