ALPINE — The Howard Payne Lady Jackets recorded their first American Southwest Conference softball series sweep since 2013, and picked up their second ASC series victory of the season with Saturday's 6-4 road victory over the Sul Ross Lady Lobos.
The Lady Jackets (10-10, 7-8) also matched last season's win total with Saturday's triumph, which came on the heels of 9-6 and 10-2 victories over Sul Ross (4-12, 4-11) Friday. HPU's last ASC sweep was also against Sul Ross the weekend April 12-13, 2013, the last year the ASC played four-game conference series.
In Saturday's victory, Howard Payne scored all its runs in the top of the first inning, which followed a five-run first-inning outburst in Game 2 of the series. Sul Ross attempted a late rally with single runs in the fourth and fifth inning and two in the seventh, but never truly threatened the Lady Jackets.
Celese Tirres went the distance in the circle for HPU, allowing three earned runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
At the plate, the Lady Jackets recorded 10 hits as Rachel Hitt led the charge with a 3-for-4 effort that included a pair of doubles and an RBI. Sabrina Ochoa was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Yasmine Ayala doubled home a run, Celina Ortiz and Tayler Rushing finished with one hit and one RBI apiece and Gaby Muniz and Allison Eaton also chipped in singles.
For Sul Ross, Breann Sturges took the loss in the circle as she surrendered six runs — three earned — on eight hits with three walks over four innings. Elizabeth Livingston finished the game and yielded only two hits and two walks in three innings of work.
Offensive standouts for Sul Ross included Destanie Hernandez with three hits, including a solo home run. Jav'ana Gonzalez and Nicole Stoltz with two hits apiece, Isaura Rodriguez with an RBI double, Christina Graham with an RBI and Zuriah Leyva with a base hit.
During Howard Payne's six-run first-inning, Hitt led off with a double and Ortiz followed with a one-out RBI single up the middle. Eaton then walked ahead of an RBI double to right-center by Ayala, which plated Ortiz. Rushing's RBI single to left brought Eaton for a 3-0 lead. Kodi Glosson then reached on a two-out error, allowing Rushing to score. Ochoa's RBI base hit plated Glosson, while Hitt' second double of the inning brought home Ochoa with the final HPU run.
Sul Ross lit up the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth as Rodriguez doubled home Leyva, who reached on a single.
The Lady Lobos tacked on their second runs in the sixth as Hernandez led off with a solo homer to right-center field.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hernandez led off with a single and scored on an error following a Gonzalez base hit. Graham's RBI sacrifice fly scored Hernandez, but also accounted for the second out as Torres retired Shelby Doederlein on a pop fly to end the contest.
The Lady Jackets will host No. 1-ranked UT-Tyler (14-2, 9-0) — which is in the midst of a nine-game win streak — in a three-game series Friday and Saturday. Games 1 and 2 will take place at 1 p.m. Friday with Game 3 to follow at noon Saturday.