MSUB Softball Earns Team of the Week with 3 Wins
Bella Rovens hit her first home run of the year Friday, a game winner in the bottom of the eighth.
Bella Rovens hit her first home run of the year Friday, a game winner in the bottom of the eighth.

Monday, April 6, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Montana State Billings softball team took three-of-four from Central Washington to earn Red Lion Hotels Team of the Week honors.

With the three wins, MSUB (19-18, 9-7 GNAC) moves into a virtual four-way second-place tie in the conference standings.

“I know we’re all really close in the standings,” MSUB head coach Lisa Allen said. “We’re tied with Central now and that shows how important it was to beat a team like that late in the season. Central is a very good team and I’m proud of what we accomplished.”

The Yellowjackets made two remarkable comebacks on the week, including responding from two late deficits twice in game two of the four-game series in Billings.

MSUB started off the week Friday crushing the Wildcats 7-1 in part to three home runs hit in the game. Two of those home runs came of the bats of Kelsey Devlin who wound up with four RBI’s in the game. Pitcher Jessyka MacDonald threw seven innings of one-run ball to win her ninth game of the season.

The second game of the series featured a comeback for the ages.

MSUB freshman Cameron Cassinelli opened up the scoring with a solo home run into left field in the second. The Wildcats would pour on nine runs in the next three innings however to take a 9-1 lead.

The Yellowjackets inched their way back into the game starting in the fifth with an RBI single from Devlin, preventing an early ending by the eight-run rule. MSUB added two more runs in the sixth with an RBI single from Taylor Hoke and a sacrifice fly from Aubrey Conceicao.

“Our offense has been really strong in the later innings,” Allen said. “We knew we were capable of coming back and we just kept chipping away at it. We got one in the fifth to keep the game going. We knew we had potential to score late and that’s what we did.”

With the score 9-4 heading into the last inning, MSUB made its run.

After a Cassinelli walk and a Devlin single, Heather Tracy loaded the bases with a single to second. Devlin scored on a fielding error after a fielder’s choice the batter before, making the game 9-5 with one out. Hoke singled in the next at-bat, scoring Tracy. Two more runs scored from a Brittney Sanders fielder’s choice and Conceicao’s second sacrifice fly of the game to tie everything up at nine.

Central Washington hit a solo home run in the eighth taking a 10-9 advantage to the bottom half of the inning, giving the Yellowjackets one last shot.

With one out and two on, sophomore Bella Rovens launched her first home run of the year to right center field as MSUB overcame the eight-run deficit for the 12-10 extra-inning’s win.

The two wins on Friday put the Yellowjackets over the .500 mark for the first time since starting the season 2-1.

The third game featured another MSUB comeback, this time responding from a 3-0 hole in the first. Emily Osborn launched a grand slam in the bottom half of the first to erase the deficit as the Yellowjackets scored 10 runs in the first three innings.

Osborn would later hit a two-run home run in the fourth as the Yellowjackets would go onto win 12-8. MacDonald also picked up her third win in as many games, pitching another complete game.

MSUB would attempt another unthinkable comeback in the series finale, scoring eight runs in the bottom of the fifth after trailing 10-0. The Yellowjackets would bring the scoring margin to one on Hoke’s home run in the sixth, but the Wildcats rallied for a seven-run seventh to take the game 17-11.

The offense was clicking on the series as the Yellowjackets batted .400 on the weekend while posting a slugging percentage of .693. Seven of MSUB’s nine starters recorded a home run while Rovens was named the GNAC co-Player of the Week for her heroics. Rovens scored seven runs on eight hits while driving in five and adding two stolen bases.

Osborn and Hoke hit three home runs apiece in the series. Osborn leads the GNAC in home runs with 12 while Hoke moved into second with eight. The two posted 1.00 slugging percentages on the weekend while leading the team in RBI’s. Osborn also broke the school record for putouts in a career over the weekend with 917.

“The girls have really been focused on hitting,” Allen said. “Lots of them spend time outside of practice hitting. They take it very seriously and they are really seeing the ball well this year.”

MacDonald pitched in all four games, totaling 18.1 innings pitched with three wins, two complete games and 15 strikeouts.

The Yellowjackets will go on their last road trip of the year facing Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho Friday and Saturday before returning home for a non-conferencee doubleheader April 18 against Great Falls and four-game series April 24-25 with Western Oregon prior to the GNAC Championships April 30 – May 2.