Softball: TWU caps sweep of Eastern New Mexico with 10-2 win

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Jeff Woo/DRC
TWU first baseman Hazel Puempel catches a fly ball for an out against Eastern New Mexico at Pioneer Field on Saturday. 

Starting 1-5 in Lone Star Conference play, TWU was in a slump, but after a 10-2 win over Eastern New Mexico completed a three-game sweep, the Pioneers are thriving and riding a 10-game overall win streak.

After run-ruling the Greyhounds twice  Friday in six-inning games, TWU was even more efficient Saturday, as it needed just five innings to do the job.

Even with the Pioneers' recent tear, coach Genny Stidham  doesn't think they've played their best ball yet.

"The coaching staff was never in doubt of the players and what they are capable of," Stidham said. "We can't always go out there and perform like we would like. Girls have played different positions. It takes time to get comfortable, and when you have a new team, it takes time to jell. I'll be honest — since I've been here my teams haven't played well at the start of the year."

Against the Greyhounds (13-22, 6-9 LSC), the Pioneers' offense was on fire, with everyone in the lineup picking up at least an RBI or run scored.

Alexis Elizondo and Abby Walker  led the Pioneers (19-10, 9-5) with two RBIs apiece to balance out the top of the lineup, which collected the runs and hits.

Leadoff hitter Nicole Nordie was 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Katy Stephens backed her up by going 2-for-3 with two runs. Hazel Puempel scored two runs and Tylia Sylestine had an RBI and run scored.

"The top of the lineup is killing," Stidham said. "They are going to work hard, and I think now they believe in themselves. That goes a long way. Now they have confidence in their capabilities. Runners get on board, and instead of them worrying about them scoring, they are taking care of business and believe in their pitchers."

After giving up the first run of the game, TWU responded with a six-run bottom of the first and a four-run second.

Abby Walker picked up the win, allowing just two earned runs and four hits with five strikeouts.

But it was a crucial moment for the final out that left Stidham impressed.

The Greyhounds' Erikka Burke, who homered her previous time up in the third, had a chance to extend the game in the fifth. Originally the plan was to walk Burke, especially after an error moved the runner at first base to second.

But once Burke fell behind the count at one ball and two strikes, Stidham encouraged Walker to throw a risky pitch — a changeup.

Burke bit on it, grounding out to end the game.

"I told her to throw the first pitch outside and the next pitch was a waist-high pitch, and before you know it you're up one ball and two strikes," Stidham said. "I asked her, 'Are you going to win? Are you going to win?' She wasn't happy she had to face her, and we hadn't thrown her a changeup all day.

"No guts, no glory."

TWU will head out on the road for a nonconference doubleheader against Oklahoma Christian on Tuesday before closing the week with a three-game series at Angelo State.

PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.

TWU 10, Eastern New Mexico 2 (5)

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WP - Abby Walker (9-3). LP - Kiana Zerr (2-8) 2B - T: Katy Stephens, Tylia Sylestine, Abby Walker. HR - E: Erikka Burke.


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