After a walk-off win in Thursday's series opener, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets split Friday's home doubleheader with the Hardin-Simmons Cowboys to earn an American Southwest Conference softball series victory.
Following an 8-6 loss in Friday's first game, the Lady Jackets erased an early four-run against Hardin-Simmons to take the nightcap, 11-6.
Game 2 Friday featured a four-run first inning by Hardin-Simmons (16-15, 11-7), which Howard Payne (13-16, 9-12) immediately answered with six runs in the bottom of the frame. The Lady Jackets tacked on four more runs in the second to open a comfortable 10-4 advantage.
In HPU's first, Aurora Luera led off with a single, Tonya Thompson followed with a double down the left field line and Alexis Sullivan's two-RBI double to left-center cut Hardin-Simmons' lead in half. Following a walk by Emily Martinez, Kayla Hill singled home Sullivan with the third run. With two outs, Haley Slater prolonged the inning with a single then Ragen Noriega tripled, which plated Slater and Hill and gave the Lady Jackets a 5-4 edge. Noriega also scored on an error.
The Lady Jackets' second inning featured a one-out walk by Thompson then an RBI double from Sullivan. Following a free pass to Martinez, Kayla Anderson reached on a two-base error that allowed both Martinez and Sullivan to score. Slater followed with an RBI single to right field that drove in Anderson.
Hardin-Simmons trimmed the deficit to 10-6 in the top of the sixth, but Howard Payne responded with its final run in the bottom of the frame. Sullivan began the inning with a single to left field, while Slater's two-out RBI infield single plated Sullivan.
Howard Payne finished with 14 hits — four from Slater, three from Sullivan, two apiece from Luera and Hill and one each by Thompson, Anderson and Noriega.
In the circle, Hannah Stuart notched the win allowing six earned runs on nine hits with one strikeout and one walk over 6.1 innings. Audrey Simpson recorded the final two outs.
In Game 1 Friday, the Lady Jackets surrendered the final four runs of the contest after reeling off five consecutive to open a 6-4 advantage through four frames. Howard Payne yielded one run in the fifth, two more in the sixth and an insurance run in the seventh to Hardin-Simmons.
The Lady Jackets' fourth featured walks from Anderson and Thompson, then Sullivan's two-RBI triple staked Howard Payne to a two-run lead.
The Cowgirls closed the gap to 6-5 in the fifth as Kaitlin Ammerman doubled home Kate Tovar, who tripled. Then, in the sixth, Brookelyn Casper doubled in Taylor Hinojos, who walked, with the tying run while Karis Hessert's RBI double plated Casper with the go-ahead run. In the seventh, Camille Scott's RBI double scored Hessert, who led off with a walk, with the final run.
HPU found itself in a 4-1 hole heading to the bottom of the second inning, where the Lady Jackets pushed across three runs to pull even, then jumped back in front with two runs in the fourth.
Slater and Anderson started the inning with consecutive singles and advanced a base on Madison Love's sacrifice bunt. Luera then singled home Slater, while Thompson's RBI sacrifice allowed Anderson to cross the plate. With two outs, Sullivan knocked in Luera with the tying run on an RBI single to right field.
The Lady Jackets scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first, but the lead didn't last long. Thompson, who reached on a fielder's choice, came home on a two-out wild pitcher during Noriega's at-bat.
Howard Payne finished with eight hits — three with three RBI from Sullivan, two from Luera and one hit each from Noriega, Slater and Anderson.
In the circle, Tia Campos, Stuart, Simpson and Gabrielle Roque combined to surrender eight earned runs on 13 hits with two strikeouts and a pair of walks. Roque was tagged with the loss.
Howard Payne will host Our Lady of the Lake at 1 p.m. Tuesday in a non-conference doubleheader, then travel to UT-Tyler for three contests Friday and Saturday.