With just four Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) games remaining — and its offense stuck in neutral — the Saint Mary’s University (SMU) fastpitch softball team was in dire need of an offensive pick-me-up.
Which is exactly what the Cardinals got.
The Cardinals — mired in an offensive slump following back-to-back shutout losses to Saint Benedict earlier this month — finally saw their offense come to life against Concordia College on Saturday afternoon, scoring 11 runs in its conference twin bill.
Problem was, five runs in the first game and six in the second would not be enough, as Concordia used a pair of big, late-game innings to deal the Cardinals 7-5 and 10-6 setbacks at Jake Christiansen Stadium.
The Cobbers erased a 5-4 SMU lead with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning — and staved off a Cardinal seventh-inning threat in dealing Saint Mary’s a 7-5 setback — in game one, before scoring four times in the fifth inning to break a 6-6 tie and deal SMU a 10-6 loss in the nightcap.
After spotting the host Cobbers a 3-0 first inning lead, and sputtering through their first two at-bats, the Cardinals got to work, scoring once in the third inning on a Justine Schultz RBI single, and erupted for three runs in the fourth — highlighted by a two-run double by Haley Williams — the Cardinals grabbed a 4-3 advantage.
The Cobbers regained the lead with three runs in their half of the sixth, and then survived a Saint Mary’s seventh that included a lead-off home run by Schultz, followed by a single off the bat of Jordan Meyers. Concordia pitcher Megan Gavin, however, induced a fielder’s choice groundout and a pair of strike outs to the end the threat — and the game.
Schultz and Meyers head had three hits to pace the Cardinals’ 10-hit, game-one attack, while, Mackenzie Carey had a pair of hits and Williams and Amber Chow had the other two.
Concordia once again struck first in the second game, scoring once in their opening at-bat, only to have Saint Mary’s answer with an RBI single from Williams and an RBI groundout by Schultz to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
The Cobbers regained the lead with three runs in their half of the second, and added another in the third for a 5-2 lead. The Cardinals responded, scoring four times in the fourth — highlighted by a two-run single by Schultz — to grab a 6-5 advantage.
From there, however, Saint Mary’s offense stalled, and the Cobbers went racing past, knotting the game at 6-6 with a run in the bottom of the fourth, and then iced the sweep with a four-run fifth.
Schultz continued to swing the hot bat for the Cardinals, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Williams and Hallie Schmeling each added a pair of hits.