Fort Lewis College fell victim to a pair of big innings Friday in the NCAA Division II Softball Championships in Mankato, Minn.
The Skyhawks dropped an 11-3 decision to host and top regional seed Minnesota State-Mankato in the double-elimination Division II Central Region Tournament.
The Mavericks scored four times in the first inning before turning back an FLC rally in the middle innings.
Minnesota State-Mankato, which improved to 4-0 all-time against the Skyhawks, had 13 hits, including six that went for extra bases.
Catcher Lindsay Erickson was 3-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in. She hit her 10th home run of the year in the third.
Natalie Janes of FLC also hit her 10th homer run of the season, bashing a shot off the scoreboard in left-center. FLC’s student-body president was 2-for-3.
Cierra Walters had three hits and scored one run for FLC. Hayley Bolyard, Erica Conley, Destinee DeHerrera and Stephanie Janes also collected hits for the Skyhawks, who are making their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
“In those middle innings, some hits just seemed to go their way,” Fort Lewis head coach Kira Zeiter said. “And that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Kelly Wood went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored for Minnesota State-Mankato, and Chelsea Erickson and Brittani Robinson were 2-for-3.
Zeiter, however, said the Skyhawks remain confident in their ability to score runs. They stranded nine baserunners Friday, leaving the bases loaded in the third inning after reducing the Mavericks’ lead to 4-2.
“This team knows how well we can hit the ball,” Zeiter said.
Fort Lewis’ Kassie Haubert (12-8) pitched five innings and faced four batters in the sixth before being lifted for reliever Olivia Bergman trailing 10-3.
Bergman faced just one batter. Woods singled to left to score the 11th run, ending the game on the eight-run rule.
FLC (30-25) will play Minnesota-Duluth at 1:30 p.m. today in the elimination bracket. Minnesota-Duluth (37-21) lost to Concordia-St. Paul 7-5 on Friday.
“We had lots of baserunners all game long, which was great,” Zeiter said. “We’re looking at (today) to have a lot of those runners cross the plate.”