With TWU coming off its most disappointing series of the season, the Pioneers’ schedule heats up even more this weekend when they host No. 23 Angelo State for a crucial three-game set.
The No. 7 Pioneers (34-9) find themselves facing the unfamiliar task of rebounding from dropping two games — both extra-inning battles — out of a trio of contests against Midwestern State last weekend. It was the first Lone Star Conference series loss this season for TWU, which is tied for first place with a 12-3 league mark.
The third-place Rambelles (25-12, 10-5 Lone Star) will visit Pioneer Field for a 6 p.m. game Friday and a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday.
In a battle of the bats, the offensive fireworks rarely let up for the Pioneers or the Mustangs. The teams split Saturday’s doubleheader, with TWU claiming a 15-1 victory in the opener before falling 14-13 in eight innings. MSU won the extra-inning series opener 4-3 on Friday.
Failing to get key hits led to missed opportunities for TWU in Friday’s eight-inning loss. The Pioneers stranded 12 runners on base — at least one in each of the first seven innings — and left them loaded in the top of the seventh.
“We left a lot of runners on base and didn’t score enough runs,” TWU coach Richie Bruister said. “We need to put runs on the board when we have the opportunity.”
That wasn’t the case Saturday when the Pioneers launched six home runs in the doubleheader to break the school record with 54 homers on the season. Katy Hines also made history with three RBIs, running her season total to a school-record 61.
Hines broke teammate Kendra Sancet’s RBI mark set last year while picking up a complete-game pitching victory, her 14th of the season.
Sancet paced the Pioneers with 10 RBIs in the doubleheader. Sancet hit her sixth home run of the season and Jordan Readicker hit her 14th.
The first 200 fans attending Friday night’s game will receive free “Pack Pioneer Field!” drawstring bags.
A free youth clinic will be hosted by the Pioneer coaches and players immediately following Saturday’s doubleheader at Pioneer Field. The clinic will last about one hour and is open to all girls in eighth grade or below.
Kristin Edwards’ tie for ninth place at last weekend’s NCAA South Central Region meet is somewhat misleading, TWU coach Lisa Bowerman said, given that Edwards earned a school-best score at the prestigious event at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.
Edwards earned a 9.850 for her floor routine, which bettered the program’s previous high regional score — a 9.750 by Rashonda Cannie in 2010 when she competed in the event as an all-around performer.
“Kristin did a beautiful routine. It was one of her best of the year,” Bowerman said. “A 9.850 is a great score to get at a meet like that. It’s difficult when you’re competing as an individual to get the highest scores of the meet.
“When you have the No. 2 and No. 7 teams in the country there, there’s going to be numerous 9.9 [scores],” she said. “If you look at the results score-wise, Kristin’s score was probably the third- or fourth-highest score. Because of so many ties, the placement of her score seems lower than it was.”
Teammate Courtney Cochefski was making her second straight trip to regionals and posted a 9.800 on bars. Although her effort tied for the second-highest score for a Pioneers gymnast at the meet, she wound up tied for 15 in the standings.
“It was a difficult situation for her, being the last person to compete,” Bowerman said. “She had to sit through six rotations where she watched other scores and had to think about what she had to get. I think she let that get to her a little bit. She was a little disappointed that it wasn’t her best performance.”
Bowerman said the tense situation from the rotation schedule and the fact that it was Cochefski’s second appearance at regionals may have affected her performance.
“She was swinging a little tight,” Bowerman said. “I think she allowed herself to get worked up a little bit by the pressure she had created for herself. Being her second year in a row at the meet, she had high expectations for herself — placing higher or qualifying for the nationals.”
Edwards and Cochefski now rejoin their teammates as they prepare for the USA Gymnastics national meet, which begins Friday in Shreveport, La.
Fans of the gymnastics program are invited to show their support at a sendoff party today when the Pioneers leave for this weekend’s USA Gymnastics meet.
The party begins at 2 p.m. next to the tennis courts behind the TWU Soccer Field. Free refreshments will be available, and fans are encouraged to bring signs wishing the team well.
The Pioneers have won the national title a record nine times and have finished second the last three years.