The TWU Pioneers took both games of the doubleheader against the Northeastern State Riverhawks and improved their record to 18-5, but it was Haley Colwell who played the leading role, stealing the show with two grand slams in a historic 14-run third inning of the second game at Pioneer Field on Monday.
With history on her side, Colwell became only the sixth player in NCAA history and third in Division II to hit two grand slams in the same inning. The last to do it was Saint Leo’s Tatiana Casis on March 4, 2009 — four years to the day. Colwell also tied Katie Hines’ and Kaylyn Vranich’s school record of two career grand slams.
“I guess it’s the difference between [junior college] ball and Division II,” Colwell said. “Division II has made me a better player, especially being a Pioneer. They were just throwing it down the pipe, and we just made adjustments and hit the ball.”
Coupled with their scorching bats, the Pioneers’ pitching staff smothered the Northeastern State attack, allowing only three runs on the day as TWU took the opener 6-1 and the second game 18-2 by run rule in five innings.
The Pioneers hit six home runs in the doubleheader, four coming in the 14-run inning.
“I didn’t realize we hit four in the inning,” TWU head coach Richie Bruister said. “Haley’s two grand slams in the same inning kind of took the spotlight. It’s something I’ve never seen and I’ll probably never see again. It was a special opportunity for her to come through and deliver right there. [My] hat’s off to the offense for them getting on base not once, but twice.”
As they did in the first game, TWU notched another multiple-homer inning as Hines hit her seventh of the season to start the avalanche of scoring in the third at 4-1.
Jordan Readicker drilled a solo home run over the left-field wall to make it 5-1. After Sancet singled through the left-infield gap and Sarah Wittenburg walked, Cayce Coleman relieved starter Kayce Wooldridge, who went only two innings after allowing five runs.
Unlike the success she saw in her first relief appearance where she struck out five Pioneers in two innings, Coleman couldn’t avoid the bombs TWU kept sending out of the park.
After Ashley Maddox singled to load the bases, Colwell sent her first grand slam to left field for her first home run of the season, giving the Pioneers the commanding 9-1 lead without an out in the inning.
Refusing to relent, the Pioneers didn’t stop padding their lead as Readicker, on her second plate appearance of the inning, sent a single to left field to drive home two more runs.
Readicker also had five RBIs, which would normally headline any game but was overshadowed by Colwell’s eight.
“It’s a shame that her awesome day gets overlooked by Haley’s stuff, but I talked to our three, four, five and six hitters,” Bruister said. “They needed to come out and have some swagger about them. They came out and delivered and that’s what we are looking for heading into conference [play].”
With the Pioneers already scoring nine in the inning, Sarah Wittenburg’s RBI single gave the Pioneers 10 runs in the inning, presenting a problem for TWU’s scoreboard, which could only display single digits in each inning.
Wittenburg’s single also chased Coleman from the game in favor of Kylee Cole. Cole was able to get a force out at home for the second out of the inning but couldn’t stop Colwell from crushing her second grand slam of the inning to bring the score to 16-1.
“We’ve got a really good offense and we know that,” Bruister said. “It was just a matter of time before we got clicking. When everybody is hitting, we can put up big numbers like that. It was very exciting everybody doing that going into this weekend.”
Hines also went 3 for 4 with two RBIs in Game 2. She also picked up her seventh win of the season in the Pioneers’ 6-1 triumph. Hines pitched a complete game, allowing three hits while striking out three.
“She’s holding up her end as the first-team utility in the LSC last year,” Bruister said. “She went out there and did it today. She got the win as the pitcher and the two home runs. It’s nice to have a player that can win at both offense and defense.”
Hines allowed a solo home run to Navada Campos in the second inning but answered with one of her own in the fourth inning to give TWU a 4-1 lead.
“I guess we all were seeing the ball really well today,” Hines said. “We’ve been hitting well at practice and in games, too. We just happened to string it all together in one inning. I’m not surprised at all that we did that.”
Kendra Sancet got in on the home-run action with another solo home run to put TWU in front 5-1. Bailey Vrazel also went 2 for 3 with a run scored while hitting the go-ahead RBI triple in the third inning.
Brandie Lander also earned her seventh win of the season in Game 2, pitching four innings with six strikeouts while allowing just one hit and one unearned run in four innings.
With its offense supplying 22 combined hits, TWU’s defense clamped down on the Northeastern State batters, allowing just six total hits on the day.
“Coach Horne has done a great job with our pitching staff and the pitchers are pitching with confidence,” Bruister said. “It’s great as a pitcher to know that your team is going to score runs. So you can go out there, make your pitches, every pitch isn’t a stress pitching and you can do your job knowing your offense is going to score.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
TWU 6, NORTHEASTERN STATE 1
WP — Hines (7-1). LP — Alex Files (2-2). 3B — T: Vrazel. HR — NES: Campos. T: Hines, Sancet.
TWU 18, NORTHEASTERN STATE 2 (5)
WP — Lander (7-2) LP — Kayce Wooldridge (3-4). 2B – T: Sancet. HR — T: Hines, Readicker, Colwell 2.