In TWU’s first home games of the year, Newman drew first blood but the Pioneers proved too powerful in sweeping a doubleheader Friday at Pioneer Field. TWU took the five-inning opener 10-1 on the run rule and prevailed 7-3 in the nightcap.
“One of the things we worked on hard this week was how to tackle adversity,” TWU coach Richie Bruister said. “We know we have a great offense and to get down is OK. We got to see that today.”
In the first game, the Pioneers ended the game with an eight-run fifth inning.
The Lady Jets scored in the top of the first when Kelsey Jones drove in Kaitlyn Buck, who reached on a leadoff walk, with a double that dropped in front of left fielder Lizzy Kelly.
The Pioneers answered in the third with a double by Katie Sancet that scored Amanda Ruiz and Haley Colwell, giving TWU a 2-1 lead.
The Lady Jets (2-4) threatened in the fourth, but Taylor Schawe missed a grand slam by a few feet as Ruiz ran the ball down in right-center.
Brandie Lander (3-0) pitched five innings, struck out three and allowed four hits and two walks.
“It starts with pitching,” Bruister said. “If you are going to win in this conference and this region, you have to have good pitching, and we got good pitching today.”
With the Lady Jets failing to capitalize on base runners, the Pioneers didn’t make the same mistake in the fifth inning.
After Ruiz walked and Colwell reached on a bunt, Molly Hein relieved starting pitcher Jones. Hein walked Bailey Vrazel before Katie Hines sent a double into shallow left field to score Ruiz and Colwell for a 4-1 lead.
Sancet was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Vrazel scored on a wild pitch. Ashley Maddox grounded to short, and Hines beat the throw home for a 6-1 lead.
“That’s another thing we worked on,” Bruister said. “What’s going to get us going? Obviously, Brandie pitched her way out of it. She stepped up and our defense stepped up. We were mentally tough right there. It gave the offense a chance, and we capitalized on it.”
With still only one out, pinch hitter Kaylyn Vranich hit a grand slam off a light pole in left-center. She pumped her fist as the game ended on the run rule. It was her second career pinch-hit grand slam.
“We just weren’t coming up with a big hit,” Bruister said. “We put some hits together there, and Vranich capped it off with the grand slam.”
In the nightcap, Hines (1-1) pitched a complete game, allowing five hits while striking out a career-high six.
Hines also performed at the plate, going 4-for-4 with three RBIs and a home run that gave the Pioneers a 4-3 lead.
“She’s a first-team all-conference utility player, and when you get labeled utility, that means you do more than one thing,” Bruister said. “She’s an awesome, all-around athlete. You won’t find a kid that is more mentally tough than her. That’s who you want at the mound or the plate when the game is on the line.”
The Lady Jets once again scored in the first inning. Jones drove in Buck and Audrey Zogelmann with a double. Jones scored on Cowan’s infield hit for a 3-0 lead.
The Pioneers (4-3) came back in the second inning with a Kelly double. Maddox hit a double of her own to put TWU on the board. Ruiz hit the Pioneers’ third double of the inning off starter Taylor Parsons to make the score 3-2.
Vrazel led off the third inning with a double to left, and Hines followed with a go-ahead home run to center field.
“It was a little nerve-racking at first, but I knew my team was behind me,” Hines said of the early deficit. “I never had a doubt that we were going to come back because our lineup is so good. I’m not really a strikeout pitcher, so I was excited because I think six is my career high. It was nice to get both the home run and the win out of the way in the same game. I was just seeing the ball really well.”
The Pioneers added three insurance runs in the sixth. Ruiz and Vrazel hit RBI doubles, and Hines singled in Vrazel.
Hines closed out the Lady Jets in the seventh with three straight groundouts.
TWU 10, Newman 1
Newman 100 00 — 1 4 3
TWU 002 08 — 10 6 0
2B — N: Kelsey Jones. T: Katie Hines, Kendra Sancet. HR — T: Kaylyn Vranich.
TWU 7, Newman 3
Newman 300 000 0 — 3 5 0
TWU 022 003 x — 7 12 1
2B — N: Erin Monday, Jones. T: Lizzy Kelly, Hines, Ashley Maddox, Vrazel, Amanda Ruiz, 3B — T: Vrazel. HR — Hines.