TWU knew it had a tough task on its hands with No. 1 West Texas A&M in town. After an opening 10-0 loss in Game 1, the Pioneers regrouped and took a 3-0 lead in the nightcap, but the Lady Buffs stormed back with a two-inning burst to take the second game 6-3 on Friday at Pioneer Field.
The first game did not start well for TWU (19-9, 5-6 Lone Star) as Brandie Lander was touched up for a three-run home run by Kaisha Dacosin in the first inning.
From that point on in the first game, TWU head coach Genny Stidham said her team could not respond after that punch in the gut.
“We had to make sure that we were spotting up pitches and making their pitcher throw a few more balls, not going after the first pitch, trying to get deep in the count and trying to get more work out of them,” Stidham said. “I felt like we were defeated after the first inning, and we need to change that.”
For a TWU offense that had put up 24 runs in its past three games, the Pioneers managed just five hits off Rita Hokianga, who came into Friday’s game with a 10-2 record, a 2.22 ERA and a 125-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“This is probably one of the worst-hitting outings that we’ve had, both games,” Stidham said. “I think they were uptight. They did put a lot of pressure on themselves and it showed.”
Lander, who surrendered six runs on five hits with five walks and four strikeouts on 124 pitches, gave up a solo home run to Renee Erwin in the third inning, giving West Texas A&M a 4-0 lead and a two-run home run in the fifth inning to Mallory Wyatt, which put the Lady Buffs on top 6-0.
“I felt like she missed quite a bit today,” Stidham said of Lander. “We need her to spot up those pitches, especially when we’re ahead in counts.”
The Lady Buffs (26-3, 7-3) added four runs in the sixth inning, which along with TWU’s scoreless sixth inning ended the game in a run rule.
In the second game, the Pioneers looked to rebound from their flat offensive showing and they turned to Katie Hines both in the circle and at the plate.
Hines belted a three-run home run to left field, scoring Kendra Sancet, who reached on an error and Sarah Wittenburg, who was hit by a pitch, in the fourth inning — putting TWU ahead 3-0.
Holding strong through the first four innings, the Pioneers relinquished two runs in the fifth inning when Alyssa Lemos knocked a two-run single off shortstop Bailey Vrazel’s glove on her diving attempt.
Then the Lady Buffs took the lead for good in the sixth inning with four runs off an error, an RBI triple by Wyatt, an RBI bloop single to shallow left center field by Lacey Taylor, an RBI double by Brittany Gehle and a sacrifice fly by Lemos.
“I thought Katie did really well,” Stidham said. “Yeah they got to her, but you know, maybe there were one or two good hits, but the others were bloop hits in the same spot and there’s not too much you can do about that. She went after them. I thought she pitched very well. She just had one bad inning and I don’t think it was bad on her part; it was just a little luck that’s part of the game.”
The Pioneers milked two walks in the sixth inning, but couldn’t capitalize with runners on base, managing just two hits.
“I just feel like we had a lot of girls struggle tonight and I think they wanted it a little too much that they were uptight,” Stidham said. “I think we’re going to make them throw more pitches and making sure we’re hitting good pitches.”