By RANGERS ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT
Northwestern Softball followed up a strong series win against Arkansas-Monticello last weekend with a doubleheader split against No. 3 Southern Arkansas Muleriders. The Rangers answered a 7-0 defeat in game one with a 2-1 victory behind another strong performance from Karly Murray.
Coming off a 3-1 series victory over Arkansas-Monticello, the Rangers were tasked with heading to No. 3 Southern Arkansas for a big test against a nationally ranked opponent.
A week after throwing her first career no-hitter, Madison Garza took to the circle looking to contain the potent Mulerider offense that came into today hitting .347 as a team.
Garza did just that until the fifth, when Southern Arkansas scrapped across the game’s first run thanks to an infield error that scored Marina Duran.
But the Rangers ran into a red-hot arm in Victoria Taylor, the Mulerider ace with a 1.58 ERA in just under 100 innings. Amber Mills managed the first hit off Taylor in the fourth, but the Rangers weren’t able to make anything of it. Taylor would hold Northwestern to just two hits and no free passes in the contest, pitching to just two over the minimum in her seven innings of work.
Trying to hang on to a 1-0 lead headed into the sixth, Northwestern saw just how quickly the conference’s best team can strike. The Muleriders found themselves in a big inning that put up six runs on five hits, burying the Rangers by a 7-0 final in the series opener. Freshman Kendall jones closed out the seventh for Northwestern, getting the final two outs.
Also coming off a strong performance last week was sophomore right-hander Karly Murray, who dazzled in a gutsy 13 inning victory over UAM. With her sights set on one of the country’s best, Murray kept her cool and delivered yet another solid outing.
The Rangers had a chance to do some damage early in the game, as Brittany Corrales and Audrey Estes had base hits. Northwestern loaded the bases in the first but were unable to capitalize off game two starter Kaylee Garner.
After finding herself in a jam in the third and keeping the Muleriders off the board, Murray cruised through to the fifth inning before she was tagged. A leadoff walk came back to bite the Rangers, but Murray settled down to hold SAU to a single run.
Northwestern’s success came in the top of the sixth where another leadoff walk came around to score. Madison McGraw drew the free base to start the frame, chasing Garner out of the game in favor of Jill Roye. The reliever got the next two Rangers but a two-out single by Macy Madewell and two wild pitches allowed the Rangers to take a much needed 2-1 lead.
Armed with a lead, Murray was dominant in the final two frames, sitting down the Muleriders offense in order to secure a statement 2-1 victory over Southern Arkansas.
Northwestern Softball and their recent string of success continued to impress the Great American Conference with a series split on the road against the #3 Southern Arkansas Muleriders. The Rangers used timely hitting and fundamental defense to hand SAU a 2-1 loss in game one, but dropped the finale 3-1 after a pair of Mulerider home runs.
A day after shocking the nationally ranked Muleriders in a 2-1 win, Jill Webb‘s Rangers were out to prove that while their previous matchup may have been an upset, it certainly wasn’t a fluke.
Northwestern gave starter Victoria Taylor trouble right from the first inning and never backed off. Third baseman Brittany Corrales got things going with a double to left but Taylor was able to leave two Rangers aboard to avoid an early deficit. A Megan Sanders two-bagger in the top of the second scored a leadoff walk, giving Northwestern a 1-0 lead.
Having given up one run or less in four of her last five starts, Madison Garza knew she would need another solid performance to keep the Mulerider hitters at bay. But the 5’4″ slinger out of Edna, Texas pitched her way out of back-to-back bases loaded jams in the first and second innings. After getting bailed out by a 5-4-3 double play in the first, Garza loaded the bases again before striking out two Muleriders to kill any potential rally.
Garza made things easier on herself, sitting SAU down in order in the third and fourth, keeping her team in control of a 1-0 contest until the seventh.
Sanders’ second double of the game gave the Rangers a runner in scoring position to lead off the seventh, with junior Katie Bell coming into run for the first baseman. A pitching change by former Ranger head coach Jason Anderson brought in Peyton Jenkins to face Peyton Garrett, who was able to get the sacrifice bunt down, moving Bell over to third with one out. On the next pitch, Amber Mills executed a perfectly placed suicide squeeze, scoring Bell for what proved to be a crucial insurance run.
Kendall Jones came on in the bottom of the seventh and recorded her first collegiate save in the 2-1 win. Jones survived a scare in the final inning when Marina Duran took a 1-1 pitch deep and over the wall in left to cut the deficit to one, followed by another two-out hit and a walk. With runners on first and second with two outs, Jones got Megan Godoyo to line out to end the game.
In the series finale, the Ranger pitching was again able to limit their opponent to minimal damage, but a pair of home runs proved to be the difference. Karly Murray would give up a two-run shot to Monica Islava in the top of the second that was ultimately the game winner.
Northwestern manufactured a run in the fourth when Corrales dropped down a bunt for a hit and was driven in by Audrey Estes for her first RBI of the weekend. But runs were hard to come by off SAU starter Kaylee Garner, who is yet to lose this season.
The Muleriders hot bats struck again in the fifth when Maddie Dow took Murray deep for a solo shot to make it a 3-1 SAU advantage, all but solidifying the Southern Arkansas win. The Rangers weren’t able to solve Garner, and eventually dropped game two 3-1.
The Rangers will make the trip to Shawnee to face Oklahoma Baptist for a four game series on Friday.