The Howard Payne Lady Jackets will held into their Feb. 23 American Southwest Conference softball opener against East Texas Baptist with a 3-4-2 record after splitting a home doubleheader against Huston-Tillotson Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Jackets needed extra innings in the opener, but came away with a 5-4 victory, then fell by a 9-0 count in five innings during the nightcap.
In HPU’s victory, the bottom of the eighth inning began under the international tiebreaker with Audrey Simpson stationed at second base. Morgean Schultz’s sacrifice bunt moved Simpson to third, then Tonya Thompson drew a walk. With runners on the corners and one out, Katelyn Dickerson reached on an error at shortstop, which allowed Simpson to score the winning run.
The Howard Payne defense faced the same situation in the top of the eighth inning, but with the potential go-ahead run at third and one out, Simpson induced a ground out back to the circle for the second out, then a ground out to shortstop to end the threat.
Simpson tallied the win in the relief, pitching 5.1 shutout innings with two hits allowed. Overall, the Lady Jackets pitching staff gave up two earned runs on eight hits with a pair of walks.
At the plate, Howard Payne tallied five hits — three by Dickerson and one each by Thompson and Haley Slater — drew nine walks — three by Schultz and Slater and Thompson with two apiece — and took advantage of three Huston-Tillotson errors.
HPU gave up a pair of runs in the top of the first inning but cut the deficit in half in the bottom half. Thompson singled with one out and advanced to third base on a throwing error, then Dickerson reached on a miscue that allowed Thompson to come home.
The Lady Jackets seized a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Thompson and Schultz walked ahead of a single to left field by Dickerson that loaded the bases. With two outs, Slater drew a bases-loaded walk that scored Thompson with the tying run, then Schultz came home on a wild pitch.
Huston-Tillotson (3-3) regained a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth, but HPU drew even in the bottom of the frame. Schultz led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Thompson, then Dickerson doubled to right field to knot the score at 4.
In the nightcap, Huston-Tilloston broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the fourth inning, then tacked on six more in the fifth to enforce the mercy rule.
Simpson, Kendra Evans and Tia Campos — the HPU pitchers — combined to give up 10 hits, but only four earned runs as the Lady Jackets committed a pair of errors.
At the plate, Howard Payne was limited to three hits by Celestial Gomez. Slater, Dickerson and Gabrielle Roque recorded singles for the Lady Jackets.