Mastodons split with South Dakota on softball diamond

Sports

The Fort Wayne softball team hit three home runs during its Summit League doubleheader, as the Mastodons earned a split with South Dakota. The ‘Dons won game one in an extra-inning walk-off victory 7-6, before falling 9-5 in game two.

Demitra Burns led Fort Wayne at the plate going 5-for-6 with three RBIs, two runs and a home run. Jenna Balthazor was 3-for-6, including a home run and a double, to go along with three RBIs. Maria Palmegiani finished 3-for-4 on the day. Stephanie Hanic collected a pair of hits and a team-high four RBIs. Lacey Wilzbacher also collected a pair of hits on the afternoon.

It wasn’t how the Mastodons planned to start game one as USD scored four runs in the top of the first. Burns cut the deficit in half when she rocketed a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall for a two-run shot, her third home run of the season.

The Coyotes answered in the top of the fifth with a two-run home run of their own. Not to be out done, Hanic took a 1-2 pitch and sent it down the left field line and over the wall. The three-run bomb was her second of the season.

Fort Wayne tied the game in bottom of the seventh. After a South Dakota error to start the inning, one out later Burns brought home the tying run on a single up the middle. After USD left a runner on in the top of the eighth, the ‘Dons got a leadoff double from Balthazor to start the bottom half. After a sacrifice bunt and a walk, a groundball off the bat of Lauren Watson was mishandled by the Coyote shortstop, allowing Balthazor to score from third to complete the comeback.

Bailey Benefiel picked up the complete game victory in the circle, allowing six runs on nine hits, to improve her record to 10-8 on the season.

The Mastodons fell behind early in game two as USD pushed across three runs in the top of the second, before adding a two-run home run in the fourth. The lead didn’t last long as the ‘Dons exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fourth. The scoring got started with an RBI single to left center by Hanic. Courtney Holm followed with an RBI single up the middle. Balthazor capped it off with her first career home run, a three-run shot over the center field fence to tie the game.

South Dakota broke the tie by scoring three runs in the sixth and adding one more in the seventh as the Mastodons were unable to mount a final comeback.

Shaina Eyre took the loss, tossing 5 2-3 innings, surrendering eight runs, three earned, on eight hits. Addie Benham came on for the final 1 1-3 innings as she allowed one run on two hits.

The final game of the series will be tomorrow, April 14, at 11 a.m.

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