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Softball Starts Season 1-3 at USW

Released by Panhandle State Sports Information on 02/05/2018 Senior Julia Ibarra pitched her first two games of the season this weekend against the University of the Southwest at Hobbs, N.M.-Sarah Brady photo (2017)Senior Julia Ibarra pitched her first two games of the season this weekend against the University of the Southwest at Hobbs, N.M.-Sarah Brady photo (2017)

Hobbs, N.M.—Wins on the road are never easy to come by, but the Panhandle State softball team brought home a victory from their season-opener series at the University of the Southwest this weekend.

After falling 5-2 in game one on Friday, the Aggies clinched a seven-inning win by five runs (12-7) in game two. Saturday's double-header resulted in two losses for Panhandle State (7-6, 3-0), but saw the Aggies continue to battle throughout both contests.

Friday's first matchup brought senior pitcher Julia Ibarra to the circle. Ibarra pitched a full six innings, allowing two runs in the first and three in the third to the Mustangs. She owned nine hits and four earned runs on the game, tossing two strikeouts and zero base on balls. With focus at the plate, the Aggies batted through eight in the order during the top of the first inning, sending four walked batters to base. A lead-off single by AJ Husband started things off, and Husband would score the first run of the season as three walks pushed her through home plate. Senior Brooklyne Bolton reached base on a fielder's choice and later crossed home to give the Aggies a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

The Aggies were held to just two hits and zero runs through the remainder of the game, giving the Mustang's starter Madison Garcia the win with five innings of work. MyKaya Olivas earned a save for USW, entering in the sixth. Olivas and the Mustang defense sent the first two Aggie batters back to the dugout, bringing sophomore Jena Konieczka to the plate. Konieczka knocked a triple to right field, threatening a run from third. The third out came during the next at-bat leaving the Aggies scoreless and down 5-2 going into the final inning of play. Panhandle put one runner on base in the seventh, but Olivas turned down the following three batters to save the game one win for USW.

The Mustangs took an early 1-0 lead after the first inning of game two with junior Lindsay Jacobs at the rubber. Panhandle State scored four runs in the second inning, which were answered by a two-run turn by the Mustangs that narrowed the Aggies' lead to 4-3 headed into the third. The Aggies edged out two runs in the top of the inning and allowed one Mustang runner to cross home in the bottom half of the stretch. Olivas kept the Aggie bats quiet for an empty fourth, but Ibarra was unable to reciprocate that favor, giving up three runs in the fourth and relinquishing Panhandle's advantage. The Aggies rallied back with four runs scored in the top of the fifth and sealed the victory by bringing in two additional runs in the seventh. Jacobs pitched the complete game, taking 11 hits and five earned runs over the seven-inning stint; she threw six strikeouts and three walks in the game.

Leading hitters in game two were designated player, AJ Husband with three RBI on two singles, centerfielder Jewell Lee with a two-run triple, Jaylinn Reyes who went 4-4 at the plate and Haleigh Scott who contributed four RBI on a double and two singles. Junior Abby Gregory also brought in two runs with one hit in four at-bats. Husband was also credited with two stolen bases in the game, along with senior Faith Guzman who scored two runs and had one stolen base.

Saturday got off to a slow start at the plate for Panhandle with just one hit allowed over the first two innings. Lindsay Jacobs led off in the circle for the Aggies and gave up a two-run homer in the first inning and two runs on an error in the second. Abby Gregory and Brooklyne Bolton stepped up with back-to-back singles in the top of the third, followed by two fielder's choice plays and a walk which helped bring through two runs for Panhandle State. An empty bottom half of the inning gave the Aggies a chance to play catch-up going into the fourth down 4-2, but the Mustangs closed out a quick three-up three-down side to hold the two-run advantage. USW added one run on two hits in the bottom of the fourth and neither team would shift the score through the fifth. Panhandle left two runners on base for an empty sixth, and the Mustangs increased their lead to 7-2 with two runs scored in the second half of the inning. Singles from Brissa Rivera and Faith Guzman got a seventh-inning rally started for Panhandle State. A double by Haleigh Scott brought both runners through with two outs on the board. Jena Konieczka and Lindsay Jacobs each hit RBI singles to bring the Aggies within one run of their opponents (7-6). Jewell Lee came up with another single to reach base sending Jacobs to second, but a strikeout swinging left both runners on base to end the game.

Ibarra was back at the rubber for the series finale on Saturday and went a full six innings, taking nine hits and three earned runs over 27 batters faced. The Mustangs were kept scoreless through the third inning, but brought through two runners in the fourth and the third and final run of the day came in the bottom of the fifth. The Aggies were only able to muster three hits over the seven-inning stretch, with Jaylinn Reyes, Abby Gregory and Brooklyne Bolton each hitting singles in the game. Ibarra marked her second loss of the season and Jacobs owns a 1-1 record from the circle thus far.

Aggie softball looks to bounce back this week as they head to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the Cowtown Classic tournament Feb. 9-10. The team will face five NAIA opponents from four different conferences over the two-day stint. Friday holds a three-game schedule starting with a matchup against Kansas Wesleyan at 11 a.m. At 3 p.m. the Aggies meet up with Ottawa, and they close out the day with a 7 p.m. game against Briar Cliff University. Saturday's events begin with a 1 p.m. contest with Columbia College (Mo.) and end with a 3 p.m. match against Bellevue University. Live stats and video streaming is not available for the tournament games, but scores will be posted as soon as they are received.

Panhandle State softball hosts their home-opener the following week with a four-game series against McPherson College Feb. 17-18. Games begin at 1 p.m. both days and live stats will be offered for all four games; live video streaming will be available for Sunday's double-header. Links may be found on the softball schedule page at

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