RICHARDSON — The struggles for the Howard Payne Lady Jackets softball team continued over the weekend with their eighth American Southwest Conference series loss in as many outings.
The Lady Jackets dropped all three games to the No. 21 UT-Dallas Lady Comets, suffering a 6-5 extra-inning loss in the opener, followed by a 9-1 defeat in the second half of Friday’s doubleheader, and a 9-0 loss in Saturday’s finale.
Howard Payne (5-24, 3-21) has now lost 11 games in a row and been swept in three consecutive conference series. The Lady Jackets’ last victory occurred March 10 — a 4-3 extra-inning home victory over Sul Ross.
In Friday’s series opener, the Lady Jackets built a 5-0 lead through four innings, but UT-Dallas (23-8, 15-6) responded with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, the tying run in the seventh and the winning run in the eighth inning.
HPU took a 1-0 lead in the third as Tayler Rushing singled home Audrey Simpson, who reached on a one-out single.
The Lady Jackets added four runs in the fourth as singles by Tiffany Hinkleman and Tonya Thompson, along with an error during Sabrina Ochoa’s at-bat, loaded the bases with one out. Simpson followed with an RBI on a fielder’s choice as Hinkleman scored. Rachel Hitt then laid down an RBI bunt that brought home Ochoa. Rushing followed with an RBI sac bunt that plated Thompson, while Kayla Boucher singled home Simpson to cap the scoring.
HPU finished with eight hits — three by Hinkleman and one apiece from Simpson, Hitt, Rushing, Boucher and Thompson.
In the circle, Thompson worked five innings and gave up four runs on nine hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Madison Witherwax pitched a scoreless innings of relief, allowing one walk with one strikeout. Simpson took the loss, hurling 1.2 innings and giving up two runs on four hits with one strikeout and one walk.
In the 9-1 loss Friday, the Lady Jackets fell behind 6-0 in the first inning and never recorded.
HPU’s lone run crossed the plate in the second inning as Gabrielle Roque led off with a walk and scored when Simpson reached on a two-out throwing error.
The Lady Jackets were limited to five hits — two by Ochoa and one apiece by Thompson, Rushing and Hinkleman.
Simpson lasted two-thirds of an inning in the circle, giving up five runs on three hits with two walks. Witherwax came on in relief and pitched 3.2 innings, yielding four runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout.
In Saturday’s 9-0 series finale, the Lady Jackets mustered just one hit off UT-Dallas pitcher Sara Davidson, who walked one and struck out one.
Hitt walked in the first inning and reached on an error in the fourth, while Rushing singled in the fourth to account for the only HPU base runners.
The Lady Jackets will attempt to rebound at home next weekend against Belhaven (10-19, 6-18). Games 1 and 2 begin at 1 p.m. Friday with Game 3 to follow at 11 a.m. Saturday.