Mavs softball drops rubber match to NDSU

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March 30th, 2015

Krista Menke (pitching) made a splash returning home to Nebraska. (Photo Courtesy Brandon McDermott)

NDSU’s Krista Menke (pitching) made a splash returning home to Nebraska. (Photo Courtesy Brandon McDermott)

The University of Nebraska at Omaha softball team had an important Summit League series with conference leader North Dakota State University. KVNO’s Brandon McDermott was there and filed this report.


 

Omaha, NE – The Omaha softball team finished the eight game home-stand with three games this weekend against the Bison of North Dakota State.

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Saturday, NDSU ace pitcher and Nebraska Native Krista Menke threw a gem. She pitched a complete game, striking out 12 Mavs while giving up just four hits and one run. Menke notched the win for NDSU, her 17th on the year. UNO’s Kat Barrow threw a complete game, giving up nine hits and three runs in defeat.

In game two Saturday, it was a pitching battle between NDSU’s Jacquelyn Sertic and UNO’s Jaylee Hinrichs. The game was scoreless until the 5th innings when UNO scored two, the Mavs followed that up with four runs in the 6th. It was enough and the Mavs won 6-0. Hinrichs got her 7th victory of the year striking out nine Bison batters. UNO senior Allie Mathewson said being back home has really allowed the team to focus.

“This is the first time (home-stand) it’s really played a big part playing in front of our families,” Mathewson said. “We know the first half of the season didn’t go exactly how we wanted it to go, so we changed our mentality at practice to go hard and we’ve been playing pretty good at home. We have to keep that going throughout the rest of the season.”

Mathewson, a back-to-back All-Summit first team honoree, started off the year a bit slowly but is on a tear as of late. She is batting .307 for the year, but .368 in conference.

In the rubber match Sunday, NDSU scored three big runs in the 3rd inning. UNO had two separate occasions in the 4th and 5th innings, where they had a lead-off walk. But the Mavs were unable to capitalize on either opportunity. Menke pitched for NDSU and she didn’t miss a beat from the previous day. She again struck out 12 Mavs, while giving up just 2 hits on the afternoon.

With UNO’s offense unable to muster a challenge to NDSU, they fell 5-1. On the year, Menke has an NCAA leading 232 strikeouts, she also leads the Summit League in wins (18), complete games (19), saves (3), shutouts (6), batting average allowed to opposing batters (.159) and strikeouts per game (11.36).

For the weekend Menke (18-2) had 24 strikeouts, meanwhile Hinrichs got the loss for UNO (7-5), throwing just two and a third innings, giving up five hits and three runs. Barrow came in for relief for the Mavs, throwing 4 2/3 innings scattering seven hits. She struck out four and yielded no earned runs but two Bison unearned runs scored in the 7th. UNO head coach Jeanne Scarpello said the team just couldn’t get momentum back on their side.

“We had a lot of intensity right away from the beginning but (NDSU) scored three against us and we kind of backed down a little bit,” Scarpello said. “They have a good pitcher out there, we just didn’t string enough hits together, we had some opportunities but we didn’t come through, if we do that, I think we let get the momentum back, but we didn’t try to get it back to our side.”

Scarpello said both pitchers threw well for the Mavs.

“I don’t think it mattered to me if we we’re going to start Kat at the beginning or Jaylee, we knew one of them would come in for relief at some point to stop (NDSU’s) good hitters,” Scarpello said. “We just chose to go that route first. We chose to go to Jaylee first, but we have confidence in both of them, they’ve been throwing very well for us.”

Scarpello also said all of UNO’s season goals are still in-tact, including winning the Summit League regular season title. But she also said confidence may be an issue for some batters in the lineup.

“I think if anything, it shows we have to find ways to teach everybody to compete stronger,” Scarpello said. “But you want that to be in them, I think we have it, I just don’t think we have enough sticks in the lineup right now feeling great about what they are doing, to get the momentum back on our side.”

UNO (16-15 overall, 4-2 in Summit) is now in 2nd place in the Summit League behind NDSU (25-6 overall, 5-1 Summit). The Mavs travel to Kansas Tuesday to take on Wichita State for a double-header, and then UNO heads to Brookings to take on South Dakota State for a three game series this weekend, starting Saturday with a double-header.

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