After losing three of four games against No. 1 West Texas A&M and a doubleheader to No. 7 St. Mary’s at home, the TWU Pioneers went on the road and earned a four-game sweep of Eastern New Mexico.
Still ironing out some of missteps that got them in trouble during their midseason lull, including their usually threatening pitching, the Pioneers continued to rebuild their confidence as they took the opening doubleheader against Midwestern State with 8-0 and 6-4 victories at Pioneer Field on Friday.
“I think it was just a lack of confidence,” TWU head coach Genny Stidham said of the team’s recent struggles. “Sometimes when you lose one or two games and that you helped them as far as making errors or not making the plays that we need to execute, I think it played with our psyche. I think right now, they’re feeling good. Those were two big wins. Midwestern [State] is a good team and I think now our confidence is up, so hopefully we can improve the defense a little bit.”
Brandie Lander, who was in the circle for three of TWU’s four wins against Eastern New Mexico, opened the series with a five-inning shutout while also picking up her third save of the season after Katie Hines went five innings in Game 2, allowing four hits for her eighth win of the season.
“Her and Katie both pitched well at Easter New Mexico,” Stidham said. “You couldn’t tell by the runs because we did have some errors, but I think she’s back on track. The last couple games, I feel like she’s feeling more confident. Our hitting seems to be back on track.”
Surrendering just two hits, Lander said she likes being in the circle with the pressure on her and feels like her game is beginning to turn back around for her.
“I think tonight, my screwball was working well,” Lander said. “They were struggling to hit it and getting pop-ups when we need them to. That got us a lot of big outs for their big hitters.”
In the first inning of Game 1, after Kendra Sancet reached on a double to left field, Katie Hines reached on an error — allowing Sancet to score for the Pioneers’ first run of the game.
The Pioneers’ offense got going in the next two innings with three runs in both the second and third innings.
Amanda Ruiz’s RBI double put TWU up 2-0 and Tealey Farquhar singled her home for one of her three RBIs in the game.
“Honestly, I just tried to wait for my pitch,” Farquhar said. “I’ve struggled with that in the past few weeks, so I just tried to take them on the inside because that was really working for me tonight. The whole team worked really well this week hitting-wise and it really showed. Everybody did really well hitting.”
Hines delivered an RBI double to give the Pioneers the 4-0 lead headed to the third where Farquhar added another RBI single, Sancet hit a sacrifice fly and Hines knocked in another run on a single, giving the Pioneers a 7-0 lead.
Farquhar also added an RBI double in the fifth inning.
In Game 2, the Pioneers (26-12, 12-7 Lone Star Conference) matched the opening game’s early offense with two runs each in the first two innings.
Sancet hit her LSC-leading 16th home run of the season to right field, giving the Pioneers a 2-0 lead.
After an RBI single by Bailey Vrazel and another RBI for Farquhar, the Pioneers looked to have a solid 4-0 lead, but after three runs on three hits and two errors for Midwestern State (23-15, 11-7) in the fourth inning, TWU needed a clutch RBI double from Katy Stephens in the sixth inning to give them enough breathing room down the stretch.
With the two wins, Stidham earned her 500th and 501st win of her career, becoming the second coach in school history to reach the milestone. Dianne Baker earned her 700th win on March 2, 2003, before retiring in 2005.
“I’m glad to be here and I’m glad to do it at this university,” Stidham said. “With coach [Dianne] Baker here and my family being here, it was special and hopefully I get another 500 here.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
TWU 8, Midwestern State 0 (5)
WP — Brandie Lander (17-3). LP — Erin Knox (10-4). 2B — T: Tealey Farquhar, Kendra Sancet, Katie Hines, Amanda Ruiz.
TWU 6, Midwestern State 4
WP — Katie Hines (8-9). LP — Katlyn Holmes (8-7). S — Brandie Lander (3).