Lady Jackets salvage Saturday's series finale, 1-0, after being run-ruled twice Friday

JACKSON, Miss. — The Howard Payne Lady Jackets salvaged the final game of their weekend series at Belhaven Saturday, scoring the only run in the top of the sixth inning of their 1-0 victory over the Lady Blazers.

Howard Payne began the series — which does not count toward the American Southwest Conference standings as Belhaven is reclassifying from the NAIA ranks — with losses of 9-0 and 14-3 Friday, both of which ended after five innings.

In Saturday’s win, the Lady Jackets (13-19, 9-15) ended a 20-game win streak for Belhaven (25-6), which had not lost since Feb. 27 at UT-Dallas.

The decisive sixth inning for the Lady Jackets featured a lead single to center field by Adrienne Sanchez off Belhaven’s Taylor Surrento. Haley Slater followed with a walk to put a pair of runners on base with no outs. Kyra Chapa then grounded out to second, advancing McCoy — running for Sanchez — to third base and Slater to second.

Allison Eaton then flied out to left field, but McCoy raced home to complete the sacrifice that accounted for the lone run. After Rachel Hitt drew a walk, Julienne Broussard came on in relief for Belhaven to end the inning.

In the circle for HPU, Celese Tirres rebounded from a couple of tough outings Friday to post a four-hit shutout, striking out two batters while issuing a pair of walks.

The Lady Jackets finished with six hits, two by Gaby Muniz — including a triple — and singled by Sanchez, Slater, Celina Ortiz and Tayler Rushing.

In HPU’s 9-0 series-opening loss, the Lady Jackets were limited to one base runner on one hit — an Ortiz single to left field with two outs in the first inning. Broussard struck out 10 batters for the Lady Blazers.

Tirres took the loss in the circle for Howard Payne, allowing two runs on three hits with a walk. Rushing worked the final two innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits with a walk.

Offensive standouts for the Lady Blazers were Makenzie Hawkins with two hits, including a home run, and an RBI, while Savannah Lyon finished with a pair of hits and two RBIs while Hannah Holloway also contribute a couple of hits. Dani Craft and Brooke Laigast both finished with one hit and two RBIs, Taylor O’Dell added a hit and an RBI, Carly Yasses doubled and Crystal Kehtel singled.

In Game 2 Friday, the Lady Jackets trailed 6-0 after two innings before scoring the first run of the weekend in the top of the third. Belhaven compiled seven more runs before Howard Payne scored twice more in the fifth inning.

HPU tallied seven hits — three by Hitt and one apiece by Muniz, Ortiz, Brittany Ponder and Kodi Glosson.

Tirres again was tagged with the loss, allowing six runs on six hits with a pair of walks in two innings. Hitt made her season debut in the circle, giving up three runs on three hits with a walk in one inning. Rachel Jackson worked the final inning and surrendered four runs on five hits.

NCCAA Pitcher of the Week Jordan Herring picked up the victory for Belhaven, striking out six without issuing a walk.

At the plate, Craft was 3 for 3 with two RBIs, Hawkins went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and Lyons and Kayley-Morganne Shields contributed a hit and two RBIs apiece.

Howard Payne will wrap up its home schedule Friday and Saturday with three ASC games against Concordia (8-26, 5-19). The Lady Jackets remain in eighth place in the ASC standings with six games to go. The top six seeds advance to the ASC tournament.