Lady Jackets rebound from 5-2 defeat with 12-7 victory

The Howard Payne Lady Jackets split an American Southwest Conference softball doubleheader with McMurry Thursday, maintaining their two-game lead over the War Hawks and Concordia with four league games remaining.

Howard Payne dropped the opener to McMurry, 5-2, but fought back with a 12-7 victory in the nightcap, erasing a five-run deficit. The series wraps up at 11 a.m. Friday at Lady Jacket Park.

In the Lady Jackets’ victory, Howard Payne (14-20, 10-13) spotted McMurry (13-21, 8-15) a five-run lead in the top of the first inning, but answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame. HPU pulled even at 5 in the second inning and grabbed a 7-5 lead in the third. Knotted at 7 in the bottom of the fifth, HPU regained an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the inning and tacked on four insurance runs in the sixth.

With the wind gusting out of the park, Howard Payne belted four home runs — by Aurora Luera, Alexis Sullivan, Haley Slater and Kayla Hill — out of its 17 hits, while McMurry tallied three long balls as well.

Luera, Sullivan and Hill finished with three hits apiece and a combined eight RBI, while Slater, Kayla Anderson, Emily Martinez, and Tonya Thompson chipped in two hits each.

In the circle, Hannah Stuart, Gabrielle Roque and Audrey Simpson teamed up to yield five earned runs on 10 hits with three walks and a strikeout.

Tied at 7 in the bottom of the fifth, Slater’s leadoff home run turned into the decisive run. The Lady Jackets added four insurance runs in the sixth as Luera doubled with one out and Sullivan followed with a two-out RBI double. Slater was then hit by a pitch and Hill launched a three-run blast for the final five-run margin.

Down 5-0 in the bottom of the first, Luera led off with a solo shot. Later in the frame, Hill’s RBI double brought home Sullivan, who reached on a single, and Anderson singled up the middle to drive in Slater, who got on board with a base hit.

Howard Payne drew even at 5 in the second as Thompson singled to left field with two outs, and Sullivan followed with a two-run homer.

The Lady Jackets surged in front, 7-5, in third as Hill and Anderson began the frame with singles. Hill later came home on a wild pitch, while Martinez singled home Anderson for a two-run cushion.

During the opener, Howard Payne gave up two runs each in the second and fourth innings, and one more in the seventh to McMurry.

In the second inning, McMurry’s Kollin Morris reached on an error that allowed Mikayla Krause, who doubled, to score an unearned run, then Adrienne Nairn’s RBI fielder’s choice brought home Ashley McClellan, who reached on a bunt single.

McMurry upped its lead to 4-0 in the fourth when, with two outs, Nina Hernandez singled home Sydney King, who reached on a base hit, and Rachel Ripley doubled home Summer Quiroga, who singled.

Hernandez later capped the McMurry scoring with a one-out, solo home run in the top of the seventh.

Tia Campos pitched all seven innings for Howard Payne, allowing four earned runs on 10 hits with two strikeouts and no walks.

The Lady Jackets didn’t push their two runs across the plate until the bottom of the seventh inning.

Sullivan led off the frame with a solo home run to right field, which broke up both a shutout and no-hit bid by McMurry pitcher Hope Schoeneman.

With one out, Hill singled up then middle, then Anderson followed with a two-out single down the right field line. Prior to a Ragen Noriega walk, Melinda Mendoza – running for Hill – scored HPU’s second run on a wild pitch.