LAKEWOOD, Colo. – No. 21 Fort Hays State showed grit in a pair of non-conference wins at Colorado Christian on Tuesday. The Tigers took a big lead early in Game 1 and held on for a 6-5 win, then had to come back from a 5-1 deficit in Game 2 to win 8-5. FHSU moved to 21-3 overall on the season with the wins.
Game 1: Fort Hays State 6, Colorado Christian 5
The Tigers looked to be cruising early by putting up a five-spot in the first inning, but Colorado Christian kept chipping away.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the first and Amanda Vaupel delivered a two-RBI single to grab a 2-0 lead. A bases-loaded walk by Tori Beltz pushed the lead to 3-0 and then Callie Wright had a two-RBI single to make it 5-0. Later in the fifth, Maddie Holub had a leadoff triple and came in to score on a passed ball for Fort Hays State’s sixth run of the game.
Holub, who has been lights out all year in the pitching circle, stuggled with the Cougars’ offense, allowing four runs. She gave up a two-run home run in the first, which cut the lead to 5-2, then with FHSU up 6-2 in the fifth, she could not record an out as the first three batters reached base. Two of those runs came in to score as Paxton Duran pitched the Tigers out of the jam in relief. Holub finished with just three strikeouts in just the four innings pitched.
Duran worked around a double and a walk in the sixth to keep the score 6-4, but CCU made it interesting in the seventh with a two-out solo home run. After issuing a walk, Duran got the final out of the game on a strikeout, preserving the win for FHSU. She picked up her first collegiate save in the process and it moved Holub to 11-0 overall on the season. Duran went three innings, allowing three hits and two walks with three strikeouts and was responsible for just the lone run in the seventh by CCU.
Game 2: Fort Hays State 8, Colorado Christian 5
Fort Hays State struck first in the second game of the doubleheader as Bianca Adame led off the game with a triple and came in to score on a RBI groundout by Holub.
After seeing Duran in the first game for three innings, the Cougars broke through with five runs in the second inning to take a 5-1 lead. Duran settled in to pitch two more innings while the Tigers rallied to get back in the game.
The Tigers wasted no time cutting into the deficit, getting three runs in the third to cut the CCU lead to 5-4, all on two outs. Vaupel delivered a clutch two-RBI triple then Duran followed with an RBI single to help her own cause.
Fort Hays State threatened in the fourth with runners at the corners, but could not cash in, but then in the fifth Beltz tied the game with a RBI single.
With Duran already surrendering 10 hits through four innings, Fort Hays State head coach Erin Kinberger turned the ball back over to Holub to keep the Cougars off the board. She did just that, getting through the final three innings with just three hits allowed. She struck out five in the relief effort, returning the favor for Duran who had her back in the first game.
Fort Hays State kept the pressure on in the sixth with Adame getting aboard on a leadoff walk. Courtney Dobson bunted her to second base and then Holub also walked. Danie Brinkmann then delivered the clutch go-ahead RBI double to put FHSU back in front 6-5.
The Tigers looked to be going quietly in the top half of the seventh, but Amy Dunn had a two-out double then Kellsi Olsen followed with a two-run homer to give FHSU big insurance runs and an 8-5 lead.
Holub returned to form in the bottom half of the seventh, working around a pair of singles in the inning with three strikeouts, getting the final batter of the game looking. She moved to 12-0 on the season.