Bluejays 3-1 to start KCAC play

The Tabor College softball team won three of its first four KCAC games last week to move to 16-11 on the season.

Sterling—Tabor split Saturday’s doubleheader with the Warriors amid rain and chilly weather.

Tabor won Game 1 in five innings, 12-0.

Madison Byrd (13-3) threw a three-hit shutout to earn the pitching win, walking just one Warrior and striking out 12.

“(Madison’s) really good right now,” coach Suzanne Unruh said. “That helps, too. That relaxes the defense a little bit. Puts a little less pressure, too.”

Meanwhile, the Bluejays knocked out 13 hits in the contest.

“The last couple years, we’ve always felt like we were down, we always had to play catchup,” Unruh said. “That’s a lot of pressure on your offense to get things going, and I think just knowing that our pitching staff can take care of the defense and help us there, put less pressure on that defense, we come in (to bat) and it’s so much more relaxed. They just piece together some timely hits and we’ve got something going.”

Kerrigan Travens put Tabor on the board with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, also scoring Brianna Quiroz, who had reached base via error to lead off the half-inning.

Tabor scored three runs off three hits and an error in the bottom of the second inning. Quiroz hit an RBI double in the frame. Madison Byrd drove in a run with a single, then Travens hit an RBI triple to conclude scoring in the frame.

Araselly Vargas keyed the three-hit, two-run bottom of the third with a leadoff home run. Dani Calder hit a double after that and scored when Shanae Strate hit a one-out single.

A five-hit, five-run bottom of the fourth sealed Tabor’s victory. Highlighting the inning were Travens’ RBI double, Strate’s two-run double and Devon Fisk-Aguilar’s two-run single.

Travens was 3-for-3 at-bat and had four RBIs.

Tabor lost Game 2, 7-5.

The Bluejays took a first-inning, 2-0 lead when Kerrigan Travens and Stephanie Vejar reached base via single and double, respectively, and Araselly Vargas drove in two runs with a double.

Sterling, however, tied the game with a two-run home run in the top of the second.

Tabor regained the lead with a three-hit, three-run bottom of the third inning. Madison Byrd led off with a solo home run to highlight the frame. Tabor benefitted from two Sterling errors.

Sterling took the lead for good in the top of the fifth, using five hits to score four runs. The Warriors scored one final run off a hit and an error in the top of the seventh.

Tabor stranded two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh.

Travens and Vejar were each 3-for-4 at-bat. Vargas had two RBIs.

Stephanie Vejar (2-6) sustained the pitching loss. In 41⁄3 innings, she gave up eight hits and six earned runs. She walked one batter and struck out one.

“It’s hard to motivate kids to play in that kind of weather, so that was a rough one, but Sterling’s tough, too,” Unruh said. “They’ve always been like that. They fight and then when they get something going, they’ll take one hit and take advantage of it and then it just keeps going.”

Ottawa—Tabor swept the Braves with a pair of walk-off wins Wednesday, marking the Bluejays’ third and fourth consecutive walk-off victories, three of which were in extra innings.

“Molli Morgan, (Ottawa’s) pitcher, is one of the top pitchers in our league, and I feel like, even though (Madison’s) a freshman, she’s probably one of the top three pitchers in the conference as well,” coach Suzanne Unruh said. “So we knew it was going to be a pitching dual.”

Tabor won Game 1 in the eighth inning, 1-0.

Madison Byrd (11-3) went the distance on the mound to earn the win, tossing a one-hit shutout while walking no one and striking out eight batters.

The Bluejays, meanwhile, knocked out four hits against Ottawa starter Molli Morgan, but neither team scratched a run across in seven innings of play.

In the bottom of the eighth, Devon Fisk-Aguilar led off with a single to advance Tabor’s base-runner, Ariana Landeros, to third. Brianna Quiroz followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in the winning run.

Four Bluejays recorded a hit: Quiroz, Dani Calder, Josie Mora and Fisk-Aguilar. Quiroz had one RBI.

Tabor won Game 2 in walk-off fashion as well, 2-1.

Facing the same Brave pitcher as Game 1, the Bluejays were held scoreless and hitless through six innings of play.

Ottawa, meanwhile, put up a single tally in the top of the third thanks to a hit by pitch followed by an RBI double.

Tabor’s bats made some noise in the bottom of the seventh inning. Shanae Strate hit a one-out single, then Devon Fisk-Aguilar’s ground out advanced the base-runner. Brianna Quiroz drove in the game-tying run with a two-out single.

In extra innings, Madison Byrd held the Braves scoreless in the top of the eighth. Then, in the bottom half of the inning, Kerrigan Travens hit a sacrifice bunt to advance Tabor’s base-runner. Kaylie Felix drove in the game-winning run with a walk-off RBI single.

Three Bluejays recorded a hit: Quiroz, Felix and Strate. Quiroz and Felix each had one RBI.

Byrd (12-3) earned the pitching win. She threw four scoreless innings of relief, surrendering one hit, walking one batter and striking out five Braves.

“I really felt like they were confident going into Ottawa,” Unruh said. “They weren’t afraid. We knew we were the underdog. We knew Ottawa was looking good this year and picked to be pretty (high) in the finish of the conference, so it was going to be a battle.”

Coming—Tabor (3-1, 16-11) was scheduled to play at Kansas Wesleyan (3-0, 17-7) Tuesday and will host Oklahoma Wesleyan (4-0, 15-14) Saturday at 1 p.m.

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