Lady Jackets softball drops ASC series opener against UT-Dallas, 5-3

HPU first baseman Shandi Winstead turns and fires toward the bag after fielding a bunt in the Lady Jackets’ 5-3 loss Thursday.

With hopes of climbing the American Southwest Conference ladder and getting back into the postseason race, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets were dealt a 5-3 loss by UT-Dallas Thursday in the first of a three-game weekend set.

The Lady Jackets experienced their 13th consecutive defeat, however, Thursday’s three-run offensive output marked the most by HPU in a single game since Feb. 14.

HPU (2-15, 1-12) entered Thursday’s contest batting just .159 as a team, but collected eight hits in 26 at-bats, which translates to a .308 team batting average for the game.

Jessica Morales and Pricilla Patino chalked up two hits apiece, while Tayler Rushing, Shandi Winstead, Adrienne Sanchez and Cherita George added one apiece.

UT-Dallas (6-8, 5-8) finished with 10 hits against the HPU pitching combination of Rushing and Morgan Ashmore, which combined to strike out one batter and walk three.

Howard Payne trailed 3-0 heading to the bottom of the third inning where the Lady Jackets tallied a pair of runs.

With one out, Morales tripled to right-center field and later scored on an RBI squeeze bunt by Amanda Gober.

Patino and Rushing followed with two-out singles in succession prior to an RBI single up the middle by Winstead.

UT-Dallas regained a two-run edge at 4-2 in the fourth inning, but Howard Payne again crept to within one, 4-3, in the bottom of the fifth.

Gober and Patino both walked ahead of an RBI fielder’s choice by Rushing, which was the first out of the inning. UT-Dallas responded with two strikeouts to end the frame and protect its narrow lead.

UT-Dallas tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Meanwhile, Patino singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but the Lady Jackets were unable to get her home, or the tying run on the base paths.

The Lady Jackets and UT-Dallas will conclude their series with a doubleheader today that begins at 10 a.m.