RICHARDSON — The Howard Payne Lady Jackets squandered leads of three runs in the opener, and five runs during the nightcap, as the UT-Dallas Lady Comets rallied for victories in both games of a Friday American Southwest Conference softball doubleheader.
With losses of 6-4 and 7-6 Friday, to go along with Thursday's 13-6 loss at the hands of UT-Dallas, the Lady Jackets have dropped six consecutive conference outings to slip to 6-12 overall and 3-9 in ASC action.
In the 6-4 loss Friday, Howard Payne yielded five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning after seemingly grabbing control of the contest the half-inning prior.
HPU originally jumped in front, 2-0, in the top of the first as Tonya Thompson walked with one out, Alexis Sullivan followed with a single up the middle, Emily Martinez came through with an RBI double to left-center field, and Kayla Hill contributed a two-out RBI single through the left side.
UT-Dallas (9-8, 7-7) cut the Lady Jackets' lead in half in the bottom of the first half, but HPU stretched the advantage to 4-1 in the top of the fifth.
Martinez led off with an infield single in the HPU fifth and Hill followed with a one-out single. Haley Slater walked to load the bases, and Ragen Noriega followed with an RBI single to right field to plate Martinez. Daniella Flores then came through with an RBI single up the middle, which scored Amy Perez, running for Hill, to push the advantage to three runs.
UT-Dallas fired back with five runs in the bottom of the fifth, however, with a two-out, two-RBI double to right-center field by Amy Jenson staking the Lady Comets to the lead. Melissa Livermore and Hope Griffith added RBI singles in the inning, while Jessica Vlasek contributed an RBI double.
Howard Payne finished with 12 hits — three by Hill, two each from Martinez and Noriega and one apiece by Sullivan, Slater, Flores, Aurora Luera and Melinda Mendoza — compared to seven for UT-Dallas.
In the circle, HPU pitchers Tia Campos and Hannah Stuart combined to surrender six earned runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
In the second game Friday, the Lady Jackets raced out to a 5-0 lead after three innings.
Howard Payne scored twice in the top of the first as Hill reached on a dropped fly ball that scored Luera, who reached on another miscue to start the inning. An RBI sacrifice fly from Kayla Anderson later plated Thompson, who singled through the left side.
The Lady Jackets added their third in the second inning on an RBI single up the middle by Thompson that scored Slater, who led off with the frame with a single.
HPU extended the advantage to 5-0 in the third on a two-run home run by Slater, which also plated Anderson, who walked.
UT-Dallas answered with three runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth to even the score at 5.
Headed to extra innings, Howard Payne regained a 6-5 edge in the top of the eighth as Thompson picked up an RBI on a one-out, bases-loaded walk after Madison Love and Luera both walked and Noriega singled to fill the sacks. The Lady Jackets then hit into a double play as UT-Dallas avoided a multiple-run frame.
In the bottom of the eighth, Jensen led off with a double, Elizabeth Brann then singled and Amber Williams followed with the game-winning two-RBI single to right-center field.
Audrey Simpson went the distance in the circle for Howard Payne, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits with a pair of strikeouts. The Lady Jacket defense committed three errors.
The Lady Jackets generated a dozen hits – three by Thompson, two each by Luera, Anderson and Slater and one apiece by Hill, Noriega and Love.
Howard Payne returns to action March 22-23 when they host Ozarks for three ASC contests.