The Pittsburg State softball team desperately needed a win, any win.
After all, the Gorillas entered their Saturday doubleheader with Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association rival Missouri Western on a four-game losing streak and the Gorillas just lost two heartbreakers Friday afternoon against another rival, Northwest Missouri. Pitt State dropped to 4-6 at home, with all six home losses by two runs or less, including four one-run losses.
Pitt State defeated Missouri Western 2-1 in a tournament game earlier this season but on Saturday, Western swept Pitt State in two close games, 3-1 and 4-3, to extend the Gorillas’ losing streak to six.
The Griffons simply cashed in more of their scoring opportunities. For example, in the first game, the Gorillas left two on in the third and the bases loaded in the fourth, not capitalizing on chances to score the first runs of the game.
Pitt State’s loss became Missouri Western’s gain as the Griffons scored two runs on three hits in the fifth. Sarah Elliott hit a RBI sacrifice fly and Bre Fleschner knocked a RBI single on terrible-luck Pitt State pitcher Kyndel Shelburn, who continues to be on the losing end of low-scoring games where she pitches her guts out and can’t seem to buy enough breaks.
Shelburn delivered three innings of no-hit ball but the Gorillas were unable to gain her the lead in the showdown with Western ace Jackie Bishop.
Senior first baseman Kreslee Ketcham, reigning MIAA Hitter of the Week, found the only success against Bishop, collecting two of the Gorillas’ five hits against Bishop and producing the Gorillas’ lone run with a solo home run in the sixth.
Western center fielder Maegan Roemmich answered with a long ball of her own in the next half-inning, closing out the scoring.
Bishop sat down Pitt State 1-2-3 in the seventh.
The second game could not possibly have started any worse for the Gorillas.
Western leadoff hitter Sarah Elliott reached on a throwing error by her third base counterpart, Devon McCreath.
No. 2 hitter Bre Fleschner placed a perfect bunt, fielded by Pitt State pitcher Kylie Harpst with nowhere to go except for to hold onto the ball.
With two runners on, this brought up first baseman Tiffany Gillaspy, who found a pitch much to her liking and she deposited it over the fence for a 3-0 lead.
Harpst and the Gorillas settled down, averting further damage when Kendall Sorensen lined into a double play to end the first.
Pitt State freshman shortstop Jordan Bradshaw laced the Gorillas’ first hit of the game, a single into right field.
Moved up one spot in the lineup from cleanup to No. 3, Ketcham continued her torrid day at the plate with a two-run home run, giving Pitt State some more life after that inning-ending double play the previous half-inning.
Page 2 of 2 - Western catcher Keri Lorbert blasted a solo homer in the third for a 4-2 lead and this run proved to be huge later on as the Gorillas made their rally.
Pitt State drew to 4-3 on a solo homer by McKenzie Rynard leading off the sixth.
The Gorillas left too many scoring opportunities behind, plus Western turned momentum-changing double plays on a flyout and a lineout. Pitt State stranded six runners in the fifth and sixth innings.
Ketcham ended her day 5-for-6 at the plate with two homers and three RBI. She was retired once on a groundout and collected three extra-base hits to raise her batting average to .364, her homers to nine and her RBI to 25. Ketcham leads PSU in homers and she’s tied for the team lead with Tiffany Brown with 25 RBI.
Pitt State dropped to 17-15 overall, 5-7 MIAA and 4-8 at home. All eight of the Gorillas’ home losses have been two runs or less.
The Gorillas return to action next weekend against Emporia State (Friday) and Washburn (Saturday), doubleheaders away from the PSU Softball Complex.
Missouri Western 3, Pittsburg State 1
MW 000 020 1 — 3 8 0
PSU 000 001 0 — 1 5 1
Jackie Bishop and Kat Steponovich. Kyndel Shelburn and Kayla Sears. WP: Bishop (12-3). LP: Shelburn (6-5). E: Kreslee Ketcham. 2B: Ketcham. HR: Maegan Roemmich; Ketcham. SF: Sarah Elliott. SH: Steponovich; McKenzie Rynard. SB: Elliott, Michelle Stevenson. LOB: MW 7, PSU 6.
Missouri Western 4, Pittsburg State 3
MW 301 000 0 — 4 5 0
PSU 200 001 0 — 3 11 2
Janie Smith, Jackie Bishop (5) and Keri Lorbert. Kylie Harpst, Jessica Barnes (6) and McKenzie Rynard. WP: Smith (12-3). LP: Harpst (3-3). SV: Bishop (3). E: Devon McCreath, Jessica Barnes. 2B: Tiffany Brown, Catie Cummins. HR: Tiffany Gillaspy, Keri Lorbert; Kreslee Ketcham, Rynard. HBP: Janie Smith. LOB: MW 2, PSU 8.