Bulletin Staff Report
IRVING — It took five appearances and 10 games, but the Howard Payne Lady Jackets finally earned their first American Southwest Conference Softball Championship Tournament victory, 6-2, over the East Texas Baptist Lady Tigers Friday afternoon at Southwest Park.
The celebration was short-lived, however, as No. 9 UT-Tyler knocked off the Lady Jackets for the second time in two days, 9-5, to oust HPU from the tournament. The Lady Jackets finished the season with a 26-17 record overall.
In the victory over ETBU, the Lady Jackets seized the advantage with a pair of runs in each of the first two innings, while pitcher Jenna Middleton limited the Lady Tigers to six hits while stranding six runners and striking out one.
Offensively, Howard Payne tallied eight hits off the ETBU pitching combination of Randi Wright and Kaleigh Mushinski. Wright lasted only two-thirds of an inning, allowing a pair of runs on two hits with two walks and a wild pitch.
Courtni Buster finished with three hits and an RBI to pace the Lady Jackets, while Ashley Silva added a pair of hits and two RBIs. Lauren Bollich, Kate McLaughlin and Cory Lee also had hits, and Lee tallied an RBI.
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the first, the Lady Jackets pulled even when Bollich scored on a wild pitch during Lee’s at-bat. Lee then staked Howard Payne to a 2-1 lead with a two-out RBI single that brought home Silva.
Howard Payne added two runs in the second to boost the lead to 4-1 as Silva tallied a two-out, two-RBI single that plated Buster and Bollich.
The Lady Jackets tacked on two more runs in the sixth as Buster’s RBI single brought home Kristi Pinkerton, while Lauren Vesely’s RBI sacrifice bunt scored Buster.
Lady Tiger Ashley Saulters opened the scoring in the top of the first with a two-out RBI single that scored Jaimie Molling. Molling stole second base the pitch prior to Saulters’ base hit.
East Texas Baptist scored its second run in the third inning — which trimmed Howard Payne’s lead to 4-2 — as Molling raced home from second base when Adrienne Meier reached on a two-out error.