After falling flat in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against No. 1 West Texas A&M, Katie Hines and the TWU defense shut out the Lady Buffs for six innings to take the nightcap 4-2 and avoid a four-game sweep at Pioneer Field.
“It’s big because we’ve been struggling, and I was glad that the girls came back because we took a pretty good beating that first game,” TWU coach Genny Stidham said.
The Pioneers were defeated 13-3 in the opener despite gaining a 2-1 lead after the first inning.
The Lady Buffs (27-4, 8-4 Lone Star) sent Rita Kokianga to the circle after she helped them take the opener of Friday’s doubleheader, when she allowed just five hits in six innings.
TWU’s offense got to her the second time around with six hits, but the Lady Buffs’ offense jumped all over Hines, who was pulled after 2 2/3 innings — allowing seven runs and five hits.
“That’s Katie,” Stidham said. “I felt like once they got ahead of us that we were going to switch it up because I knew that she was going to come back and pitch the next game. So that was just a strategy session to just take our defeat a little bit. When you’re seven or eight runs behind, you can either try to prepare for the next game or keep fighting. I don’t think she pitched that bad; I just felt like she needed to be saved a bit so she could come back.”
Brandie Lander relieved Hines and struggled for the second consecutive day, allowing three runs and two hits.
Alyssa Galaz put TWU in front 2-1 in the first with a two-run home run, but Renee Erwin continued her hot hitting with a two-run triple to reclaim the lead for West Texas A&M. Allie Cranfill’s three-run homer put the Lady Buffs up 7-2.
Kendra Sancet’s RBI single brought TWU to within 7-3, but the Lady Buffs snuffed out the rally with back-to-back strikeouts.
Mallory Wyatt’s three-run homer in the top of the fifth stretched the lead to 10-3.
Stidham turned to Hines again and she responded with a strong outing in the nightcap, holding the Lady Buffs to two runs and four hits.
“It’s difficult to pitch in both games, especially because we have these four-game series now,” Hines said. “It’s difficult to go out there and pitch a lot of innings, but I appreciated the opportunity to get to go back out there. I was happy I got to go back out to redeem myself. I knew it was a new game, and I knew we needed to get this win.”
Stidham said she thought Hines showed excellent leadership and an ability to bounce back after the rough first outing.
“She did fantastic,” Stidham said. “I thought that was excellent for six innings to keep them scoreless when we hadn’t even come remotely close to keeping them scoreless. She just pitched lights-out. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Facing Hannah Newcomb in the nightcaps both Friday and Saturday, the Pioneers knew that they needed to secure a solid lead after blowing a three-run lead after four innings Friday and falling 6-3.
On Saturday, the Pioneers delivered four runs in the first two innings to give Hines some breathing room in the circle.
“I didn’t feel like four runs was enough,” Stidham said. “To start out and get those hits was great, but what we should have done was continue to beat at the boards.
“We failed to do that, so it was a good thing Katie was on and did such a great job.”
After Bailey Vrazel’s first-inning walk, Sancet’s RBI single up the middle put TWU on top 1-0.
The Pioneers (20-10, 6-7) chased Newcomb after one inning after she walked Hines, had an error and walked Katy Stephens.
West Texas’ Tori Bayer didn’t fare much better in the circle, as she allowed a bases-loaded walk to Taylor Beeman, an RBI groundout to Tealey Farquhar and an RBI infield hit by the speedy Vrazel.
West Texas A&M made TWU sweat with two runs in the seventh on Hannah Limmer’s RBI double and Jessica Sipe’s bases-loaded walk, but Lander came in for the final two batters and got Kaisha Dacosin to pop out for the victory.
“I don’t know if we put too much pressure on ourselves; we just didn’t play the game like we know how to play [Friday],” Hines said. “But we came back today with a new attitude and we got this win in today, which was really good for us. I think we’re ready to play the softball that we know how to play.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
West Texas A&M 13, TWU 3 (6)
West Texas A&M
WP – Rita Hokianga (12-2). LP – Katie Hines (5-7). 2B – W: Alyssa Lemos, Jessica Sipe. T: Tealey Farquhar. 3B – Renee Erwin. HR – Allie Cranfill, Mallory Wyatt. T: Alyssa Galaz.
TWU 4, West Texas A&M 2
West Texas A&M
WP – Katie Hines (6-7). LP – Hannah Newcomb (9-2). 2B – Hannah Limmer.