College softball has finally arrived in Huntsville, Texas as the Sam Houston University Bearkats kicked off with the Bearkat Classic that started Feb. 11.
In their season opener, the Bearkats faced the South Dakota Coyotes from the Summit League. This was the first time these two teams have met in NCAA Softball.
The Coyotes won their first game against Houston Baptist University 6-0 and looked to continue their good play against the hosting team Bearkats.
Freshman pitcher Brailey Wasik, who started for the Bearkats, gave up a three-run homer to Coyote junior third baseman Aleesia Sainz in the second inning on a 3-2 count. However, in the next inning, that 3-0 lead was wiped by Bearkat junior third basemen Kyndal Kutac when she hit a three-run home run herself to tie it all up.
It was a whole new ballgame until the third inning when Wasik gave up four earned runs off a two-run home run by sophomore catcher Bela Goerke, a run-batted-in single by fifth-year senior Lauren Eamiguel and a sacrifice fly by senior outfielder Courtney Wilson. That made it 7-3 Coyotes.
Wasik’s afternoon ended early as she was taken out of the game by head coach Garrett Valis.
Sophomore pitcher Taylor Bachmeyer cleaned up the last third of the fourth inning.
The Coyotes would do the same and take out senior starting pitcher Grace Garcia for sophomore Macy Schroedermeier in the next half inning. Schroedermier ended up giving up an unearned run after an error that allowed Bearkat sophomore catcher Hannah Scheaffer to reach base and score off a sac fly by freshman pinch hitter Brodie Quinlan.
It was now 7-4 Coyotes heading into the fifth inning.
After a clean fifth by Bachmeyer, the Kats were starting to claw back. Holly Fletcher was brought in for the Coyotes after another pitching change. She was knocked in 0.2 innings after an RBI double by sophomore Kylie Hobbs and RBI groundout from sophomore Emily Telg.
Fletcher gave the reigns to freshman Clara Edwards who cleaned up the mess. The Bearkats came within one run.
Christine Billmeier was brought in to pitch, but threw a wild pitch that allowed Sainz of the Coyotes to score and push their lead up to 8-6.
The Bearkats then came alive in the bottom of the fifth inning. After another error by the Coyote defense earlier, senior Sheridan Fisher hit a double to the gap that scored freshman Haleigh Carter, making it 8-7. Then after being down 0-2, Kutac came through for the Kats again with a 2-run RBI double that gave the Bearkats their first lead of the season, making it 9-8.
Sophomore pitcher Mika Vento then came in to close the game out. She did just that with three strikeouts to grab the save and cap off an amazing comeback by the Bearkats.
Billmeier grabbed the win and Holly Fletcher was given the loss.
The next game that same day for the Bearkats were defending American Athletic Conference Champions No. 25 Wichita State Shockers. The game started late, which meant colder weather with a 60-degree first pitch temperature.
After saving the previous game, Vento was given the nod by Coach Valis to start the game.
Senior pitcher Erin McDonald started for the Shockers.
After a clean first two innings for both sides, the Shockers were the ones to strike first in the third inning, grabbing a 2-0 lead after an RBI single by sophomore outfielder Lauren Lucas and an error by a Scheaffer allowed junior infielder Sydney McKinney to score.
The Shockers would build up their lead to 4-0 after two home runs.
The Bearkats in the next half inning would cut into a deficit after an opposite field home run by Hobbs made it 4-1.
After a clean fifth inning, the Bearkats got it within one run after Kutac hit an RBI groundout and Hobbs tapped in an RBI single.
Nothing happened until the Shockers finally showed how good they were with a five-run top of the seventh inning. Vento got switched after getting one out, but the runners left on base were charged to her after Billmeier came in and gave up a three-run home run to sophomore Addison Barnard.
Bachmeyer would relieve Billmeier and give up a soft single to Bailey Urban that scored two more runs.
That inning proved too much to overcome for the Kats as they were handed their first loss of the season by a score of 9-6.
McDonald of the Shockers got the win and Vento got the loss charged to her.
The Bearkats came into Day two of the Bearkat Classic 1-1 and looked to improve upon after the tough loss to the Shockers. It was announced before the game that while their game against Atlantic 10 Conference’s Dayton was to continue to be played, the scheduled 7 p.m. game against Houston Baptist University was canceled due to future inclement weather.
Dayton had lost both of their first two games heading into this. On the mound for them was freshman Haven Dwyer.
Junior pitcher Reagan Dunn started for the Bearkats and got knocked around a lot in the first inning.
After a series of hits and an error, the Dayton Flyers took a commanding 6-0 lead.
Dunn left after only 0.2 innings and was relieved by Wasik.
The Bearkats were able to cut the lead to only three after an RBI groundout by Quinlan in the second inning and a Kutac RBI single along with another run scoring via an error in the next inning.
This knocked out Dwyer out of the game and the Dayton coach gave the ball to junior Sarah Bailitz.
Wasik gave up no runs and then was subsequently taken out for Vento, who also gave up no runs for the Bearkats.
All was quiet until the bottom of the seventh when freshman infielder Elia Hebel hit a two-run home run to bring it within one run.
However, that six-run first inning was proven to be too much as the Kats lost their third game of the Bearkat Classic 6-5.
Bailitz was given the win and Dunn was charged with the loss.
For the fourth, and final game for the Bearkats in the Bearkat Classic, they faced the Shockers once again.
Bachmeyer started for Sam Houston, while Wichita State gave the nod to senior Caitlin Bingham.
The game turned into a high scoring affair, as it was already 6-6 after the second inning.
Bachmeyer gave up five earned runs while, Bingham gave up only three earned runs.
Bachmeyer was then relieved by Billmeier, who in the inning before grabbed an RBI.
Bingham was also knocked out, giving the reigns to freshman Jordyn Pipkin, who rode the rest of the way.
Billmeier would give up two more runs that would put the Shockers in the lead. She was then relieved by Wasik.
For the Bearkats offense, however, they would not score again until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Shocker lead had already grown to 15-9.
The Shockers were backed up by a four-RBI performance from junior infielder Zoe Jones and senior Neleigh Herring, who reached base safely four times along with two RBI.
The final score of the game was 16-9.
Pipkin got the win and Billmeier got the loss.
The Bearkats will continue their non-conference schedule Wednesday as they will take on Texas A&M University at 6:30 p.m. in Huntsville.