Thanks to a pair of shutout victories — and a Friday doubleheader split between Hardin-Simmons and Concordia — the Howard Payne Lady Jackets moved into sole possession of third place in the ASC West standings with six games to go.
The Lady Jackets blanked Sul Ross 8-0 and 3-0 to improve to 15-18 overall and 10-8 in ASC West action.
Howard Payne leads fourth-place Hardin-Simmons (11-20, 9-9) by one game and fifth-place Concordia (19-13, 8-10) by two games as the three squads are battling for the final two spots from the division in the eight-team conference championship tournament April 25-27.
Texas Lutheran (28-8, 18-2) and Mary Hardin-Baylor (22-14, 15-7) have firm grasps on the top two spots in the West.
In the 8-0 opening victory over Sul Ross Friday, Howard Payne pitchers Baillie Trumble and Keeley Lowrance combined on a four-hitter. Meanwhile, the Lady Jacket offense tallied two runs each in the first and second innings, one in the fourth and three runs in the sixth.
Haleigh Caraway led the charge at the plate with three hits, including a two-run home run in the bottom of the first that opened the scoring.
Carissa Zarate contributed a solo homer for HPU, while Katie Poerner and Amanda Gober both collected two hits. Tylene Middleton and Shandi Winstead both doubled and drove in a run, while Jessica Morales also recorded a base hit.
During the bottom of the first, Middleton drew a two-out walk ahead of Caraway’s towering homer to left field.
In the second inning, Winstead doubled home Amanda Cruddas, who walked, while Poerner singled home Zarate, who also walked.
Poerner singled in the fourth inning and stole second and third base before coming home on a passed ball.
The three-run sixth featured a one-out solo homer from Zarate, while Middleton doubled home Evangelina Tellez, who walked, and Caraway singled in Middleton.
During the 3-0 victory, the Lady Jackets scored single runs in the second, third and sixth innings.
Winstead led the assault with three hits and two RBIs, while Morales chipped in two hits. Middleton added her school record 10th home run of the season, while Poerner and Tellez also provided base hits.
In the circle, Lowrance hurled a two-hit shutout, striking out six and walking one to earn her first victory of the season.
In the second inning, Winstead doubled home Morales, who led off with a single, to start the scoring.
Middleton launched a solo home run in the third inning, while Winstead’s RBI bunt single plated Morales, who singled, in the sixth.
The Lady Jackets will conclude their four-game series against Sul Ross (9-25, 4-14)with an 11 a.m. doubleheader today, then travel to Hardin-Simmons next weekend for the final four games of the regular season.