The Howard Payne Lady Jackets started American Southwest Conference West Division softball action just as they had hoped — with a pair of home victories over Schreiner, 4-2 and 8-0, Wednesday.
Despite the early juncture in the ASC West schedule, only HPU (7-8, 2-0), Texas Lutheran (14-6, 4-0) and Sul Ross (5-9, 0-0) — which hasn’t played a divisional game yet — boast undefeated marks.
In Wednesday’s opener, the Lady Jackets scored the decisive runs in the bottom of the seventh inning on a two-run walk-off home run by Tylene Middleton. The second game featured a one-hit shutout by Haleigh Caraway, who has already been named ASC West pitcher of the week once this season.
Schreiner took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning of Game 1 as RBI singles from Callie Caesar and Holly Molenaar off HPU pitcher Baillie Trumble scored Victoria Alcozer and Brianna Brunner.
Howard Payne retaliated with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth as Larisa Salazar singled up to the middle to plate Caraway — who reached on a leadoff walk — while Katie Poerner followed with an RBI infield single that scored Amanda Gober, who got on board thanks to an error.
In the seventh inning, Evangelina Tellez walked with one out, which set the stage for Middleton’s game-winning blast.
Howard Payne finished with just five hits against Scheiner (0-14, 0-2) pitcher Jana Masters — one each by Poerner, Tellez, Middleton, Salazar and Pricilla Patino.
Trumble pitched all seven innings for HPU and surrendered two runs on seven hits with two strikeouts.
The Lady Jackets pounded out 11 hits in the nightcap and scored in all but one inning of the run-rule shortened contest.
Tellez led the charge with three hits and three runs, followed by two hits — including another homer — and four RBIs from Middleton. Carissa Zarate chipped in two hits and an RBI while Caraway recorded a hit and drove in two runs. Amanda Cruddas notched one hit and one RBI and Poerner and Shandi Winstead also collected hits.
Middleton picked up where she left off from the opener with a two-run shot that plated herself and Tellez, who singled with one out, in the bottom of the first inning.
In the second, Zarate’s two-out RBI double brought home Cruddas, who led off with a walk, for a 3-0 lead.
The advantage grew to 4-0 in the third as Cruddas singled home Tellez, who led off with a single up the middle, while in the fifth inning Caraway reached on an error that allowed Tellez, who again led off with a base hit, to cross the plate for the third time.
Howard Payne tacked on its final two runs in the bottom of the sixth to enforce the run rule as Middleton doubled home Poerner and Zarate, who led off with back-to-back singles, while Caraway’s RBI single scored Middleton.
In the circle, Caraway surrendered the only hit to Schreiner’s Molenaar with one out in the second inning, but HPU responded with an inning-ending double play. Caraway finished with three strikeouts and one walk.
The Lady Jackets will venture to Mary Hardin-Baylor (8-6, 3-1) this weekend for a four-game series. The first two games will be played at 5 p.m. Friday with the series concluding at noon Saturday.