Brianna Leavell represented the tying run in the top of the seventh inning with two runners on base and nobody out, but the Skyhawk grounded into a double play and the Fort Lewis College softball team would fall 6-3 to third-seed Colorado Christian University on Thursday in the first round of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament.
After the Leavell double play, All-RMAC honorable mention selection McKenna Hefley came to bat looking to keep sixth-seed FLC alive, but she would fly out to center field to end the game.
In the RMAC tournament for the first time since 2014, the Skyhawks will now play at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the loser’s bracket against fourth-seed Colorado School of Mines, which fell 2-1 to top-seed and 15th-ranked Colorado Mesa University on Thursday afternoon. The winner of that game will go on to play again at 6:30 p.m. Friday, while the loser will have its season come to an end.
FLC (19-22) got into the RMAC tournament as the last seed in the reduced six-team tournament ahead of CSU-Pueblo through the RMAC Ratings Percentage Index rankings. FLC tied in the conference standings with CSU-Pueblo and split the regular season four-game series with the ThunderWolves. The Skyhawks canceled their last four games of the regular season, a make-up series against nationally-ranked Colorado Mesa (35-2) citing a scheduling conflict with graduation ceremonies on campus the same weekend.
Happy to be back in the tournament, the Skyhawks played a strong game all around, but it was home runs off the bats of Kenzie Middleton in the third inning and Samaria Roope in the sixth that powered the Cougars (27-11) to victory.
FLC scored first in the top of the second on a single from Taylor Beaman that scored Courtney Huff.
The Cougars answered back with a three-run third inning with a Sydney Reamer RBI single before Middleton’s two-run homer.
The Skyhawks chipped away with one run in the fourth on a Colorado Christian error. Pillar Gutierrez singled to right field, and Beaman was thrown out at home, but Huff would come around to score on a Cougars throwing errors.
Colorado Christian put two runs on the board in the fifth inning when Reamer doubled to left to score Sami Edwards. Stephanie Day then singled to center to score Reamer.
FLC’s final run of the game came in the sixth when Jaden Blaise Redus made a good base running choice and scored on a Beaman fielder’s choice.
But Roope gave the Cougars an insurance run in the sixth with a solo shot down the left field line. Roope would earn the save in the pitcher’s circle in 1 2/3 innings in relief of Sydney Rawlings.
Roope allowed one hit, walked one and hit a batter. Rawlings (4-1) had issued five hits, two walks and also hit one batter. She struck out five. Of the three runs FLC scored, only one was earned, as the Cougars dealt with three errors in the game.
Leavell (8-12) was the losing pitcher for FLC. She went the full six innings and allowed six runs on seven hits. She walked one and struck out one.
FLC finished the game without any extra-base hits and will look to improve on the six-single performance in Friday’s elimination game.
The Skyhawks had two other players selected on All-RMAC teams Wednesday, as pitcher Kendra Keahbone was named to the second team and Kylie Hefley, the twin sister of McKenna, was also named honorable mention.
Keahbone finished the regular season with a 9-2 record and 2.46 earned-run average.
McKenna Hefley led FLC at the plate with a .346 batting average, eight home runs and 36 RBIs.
Kylie Hefley had a .338 batting average and scored 29 runs in the FLC leadoff spot. She also had 19 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and six homers.