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Aggie Softball Starts Conference Play with Three Wins

Released by Panhandle State Sports Information on 02/25/2018 Sydney Dougherty photo Sydney Dougherty photo

Goodwell, Okla.—After getting off to a shaky start in game one (14-10) of their four-game Sooner Athletic Conference series debut, the Panhandle State Softball team bounced back with gusto, to claim three straight wins over the Central Christian College Tigers (13-0, 22-2, 11-7).

The Aggies fell to frigid temperatures and a costly first inning in game one of Friday's double-header matchup. The Tigers came out swinging with six runs scored on seven hits in the top of the first inning. Panhandle's starting pitcher Lindsay Jacobs and the Aggie defense were quick to quell the energy of their opponents, allowing just four hits and three runs over the next four innings.

As the Tigers were tamed, the Aggies unleashed their authority at the plate sending through four runs in the bottom of the first, and two in the second with big at-bats from senior first baseman Brooklyne Bolton and freshman third baseman Jaylinn Reyes. Bolton brought through two runs on a long single down the left line in the first; a fielder's choice play and infield error scored one in the second. Reyes drove an RBI-single to score Bolton in the bottom of the first, and later crossed home as Lindsay Jacobs reached base on another infield error by the Tigers. Reyes added a sixth run to the boards in the second as an error by the short stop sent through the unearned run to pull Panhandle within one run (7-6) going into the third inning.

Central Christian had edged out a 9-6 advantage after adding one run each in innings three and four. The Aggies answered with one run in the bottom of the fourth, as Bolton stepped up with an RBI-triple to centerfield. An empty fifth held the score at 9-7, with the Aggies down by two runs. The Tigers revived momentum in the sixth inning, tallying four runs on five hits and two Aggie errors. CC's Kasi Kraus kept the Aggies bats quiet for the second-straight inning and was the third Tiger to reach base in the top of the seventh. The Tigers distanced themselves further, putting up one run in the final inning of play. Panhandle State's short stop Jena Konieczka started things off with a single to right field, and was sent home on a double up the middle by leftfielder Chrislyn Dovers. Centerfielder Jewell Lee followed up with a two-run single and one out on the board. The Aggies had edged to within four runs (14-10), but a double play on the next at-bat crushed a comeback for the home team. Jacobs took the loss, with Kraus earning her first win of the season for Central Christian.

The overcast conditions and sub-freezing wind-chill factor continued through game two on Friday, but the Aggie bats heated up for a five-inning shutout that saw Panhandle State hitters average .586 at the plate. Jaylinn Reyes opened up scoring with an RBI-single in the first inning, and catcher Haleigh Scott pushed Bolton through with a fielder's choice for the second run of the inning. Konieczka plated a run with a double down the left side, and was backed-up by second baseman Karah Ortiz, who brought Scott in on an RBI-single giving the Aggies a 4-0 lead after one inning of play. Designated player Anujnessia Husband led off with a single in the second and proceeded to second base on a steal. Husband scored run number five as Reyes sent a single to right field.

A big third inning brought seven runs in for the Aggies, as they hit through the order with the first seven batters reaching base. Lee and Bolton added one run each on a single and walk respectively. A two-run single by Reyes tipped the run rule, giving Panhandle a 9-0 edge with one out in the inning. Scott batted in two more runners with a triple, and a single from Konieczka sent through the final run of the third inning. The Tigers left two runners on base in the top of the fourth to take a 12-0 deficit. Husband gave an encore performance in the bottom of the fourth, with a lead-off single and stolen base bonus. Lee drove Husband to third on a single, and pinch hitter Brileigh Murphree did the job with a ground-out RBI to bring Husband home for the last run of the day. Senior pitcher Julia Ibarra also took care of business, earning her third win of the season in five innings of work. Ibarra threw four strikeouts, six groundouts and five fly-outs, while allowing just four hits over 20 batters faced.

Damp and dreary weather welcomed fans for Saturday's first outing, but clouds parted and the sun shined as the Aggies lit up another heavy-hitting performance that ended with a five-inning victory (22-2). With Ibarra back in the circle, Central Christian conceded two runs, two hits and five errors over the five-stanza stretch. The Aggies amassed 21 hits including five doubles, two triples and one homerun in 37 at-bats. Jaylinn Reyes and Chrislyn Dovers each hit RBI-triples in the game, along with Jena Konieczka who sent two doubles for three runs on the Tigers. Karah Ortiz struck a three-run homer in the first to round out the six-run inning. Ibarra and Bolton combined for three runs on doubles and Dovers, Ibarra, Lee, Reyes, Bolton and Husband all brought in runs on singles. Panhandle State put together a 12-run inning in the fourth, after scoring four runs in the third. The Tigers scored one run in the second and one in the fourth.

The Tigers bore down for battle in Saturday's series finale, and evened the score with two ties over the seven-inning contest. Lindsay Jacobs landed her first win in the circle, throwing a full five innings and facing four batters in the sixth. Jacobs left the Tigers empty-handed in three of her five innings at the rubber. Central Christian took two runs in the second and one in the fifth, leaving with eight hits and six earned runs to her name. The Aggies put up one run each in the first two innings; Reyes with a single in the first and Ortiz with a triple in the second. Tied at 2-2 going into the bottom of the third, Panhandle put up four runs in the bottom of the inning off the bats of Dovers, Scott and Jacobs; Bolton came across on a passed ball to edge the Aggies to a 7-2 lead.

Central Christian matched the Aggies at 7-7 after scoring one run in the fifth and four in the sixth. With the tying run on first and zero outs on the board, Julia Ibarra entered for Jacobs to close out the game. Ibarra gave up two hits through five batters faced. The Aggies reclaimed the advantage in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four on a two-run single by Konieczka and RBI-doubles by Scott and Ibarra. Ibarra struck out three batters in the top of the seventh to save the victory and clinch the series for Panhandle State. With the wins the Aggies improve to a 6-9 record on the season and own a 3-1 record in conference play.

For the series, Jewell Lee emerged as the leader at the plate. Lee went 12-18, taking 16 total bases and scoring ten runs for the Aggies. Jaylinn Reyes led the team in RBI, batting in 11 runs on eight hits. The Aggies out-hit their opponents .500 to .355 and totaled 11 doubles, eight triples and one homerun over the four-game stretch. Runners went 7-7 in stolen base attempts, with Lee, Reyes and Husband each taking two and Scott with one. In the circle, Ibarra and Jacobs each totaled 12 innings and combined for 12 strikeouts; Ibarra with eight and Jacobs with four. The Aggie pitchers totaled a 5.62 team ERA.

Panhandle State Softball currently ranks No. 18 in the nation for team batting average at .370 and sits first in triples (12), third in runs scored (112) and runs batted in (105), fourth in total hits (172), fifth in triples per game and seventh in doubles (28). The Aggies boast five players ranked in the nation's top-ten individually and hold over 40 top-ten spots for individual performance within conference ranks.

Head Coach Meghan Mulcahy is proud to see her team getting off to such a strong start stating, "We did a great job at the plate this weekend. Our hitters are giving us the opportunity to be in every game, and we are gaining more confidence at the plate."

The Aggies depart for a non-conference meeting in Winfield, Kan. with Southwestern College on Wednesday, Feb. 28; the double-header begins at 2 p.m. Live stats are offered online at on the softball schedule page. The team returns to Aggie Field on Saturday, March 3 for a double-header matchup against Sterling College. The Aggies will return to Sooner Athletic Conference play March 8-10 with an SAC road series against Oklahoma City and Southwestern Christian.