UTT, Pacific Lutheran split doubleheader

UT Tyler's Joey Cronin beats the tag from Pacific Lutheran's Glenelle Nitta as she slides into second base during their game at UT Tyler Ballpark on Thursday afternoon. (Herb Nygren Jr | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

UT Tyler’s softball squad split a non-conference doubleheader with seventh-ranked Pacific Lutheran on Thursday evening in the final game of the Lutes’ week long Texas road trip. The Patriots dropped Game 1, 3-2, despite leading 2-1 in the seventh. They rebounded in the nightcap for a 7-0 victory.

The 10th-ranked Patriots moved to 19-5 on the year. Pacific Lutheran returns to Washington 24-8 after an 8-2 road trip where they faced Hardin-Simmons, Mary Hardin-Baylor, LeTourneau and UT Tyler.

Game 1 failed to lack drama from the start. The Lutes’ first two batters reached base on a double by Amanda Goings and an infield single by Montessa Califano. Goings scored two batters on a single by Kaaren Hatlen to give Pacific Lutheran an early lead. Patriots starter Heather Abshire, however, worked out of the jam and held the Lutes to the lone run.

UT Tyler promptly responded in the bottom of the inning. Katelyn Thomason and Brittany Hay singled to lead things off for the Patriots. Joey Cronin followed with a single to center that brought home Thomason to tie the contest, but a double play cut the Patriots’ inning short.

Cronin doubled to start the fourth and scored on a one-out single by Ashley Endsley, who advanced to second on the throw home.

The Lutes tied the game in the seventh. Ami Gran and Goings singled to start the inning and, following a fielder’s choice, Goings scored on a hit by Stacey Hagensen.

Pacific Lutheran took the lead in the eighth. A two-out hit by Goings that skipped off Endsley’s glove at third, past Hay at shortstop and into left field allowed Lindsey Matsunaga to score the go-ahead run.

UT Tyler went down in order in the bottom of the inning to close out the Lutes comeback bid. Hagensen picked up her 13th win of the year for Pacific Lutheran. Abshire recorded her second loss of the season.

The Patriots took out their frustration in the first inning of Game 2, posting three runs after the Lutes left the bases loaded in the top of the inning. Hay and Cronin reached base with one out. Hay scored on a single by Abshire to put UT Tyler up 1-0. Endsley followed Abshire with a double to bring home two runs.

UT Tyler added two runs in the third on hits by Ashlee Johnson and Carli Wheeler. Endsley, who doubled and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, scored on a double by Johnson. Wheeler brought home Johnson on a single through the left side.

The Patriots added a run in the fifth and sixth inning to extend their lead. Johnson singled to lead off the fifth, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gomez and scored on a triple to center field by Thomason. Cronin scored in the sixth on a squeeze bunt by Howell.

Thomason closed things out in the seventh to earn her 11th win on the year with the complete game, five-hit shutout. Katie Lowery, who only faced six batters, took the loss.

“I’m proud of the way they responded,” UT Tyler head coach Mike Reed said. “I thought Heather (Abshire) threw an outstanding game and Katelyn (Thomason) threw an even better game.

“I felt like we outplayed them most of Game 1, but they’re a really good team. We played much better defense in Game 2; … we tightened up and made some good plays.”

UT Tyler returns to the field Saturday with an American Southwest Conference doubleheader against Mississippi College. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at UT Tyler Ballpark.

“It will be another battle (Saturday),” Reed said. “Mississippi (College) plays a lot like Pacific Lutheran, so we thought it was good timing to play them now. We always expect a battle with them and anyone in the East (Division).”

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UT Tyler Ballpark, Tyler

Game 1

No. 7 Pacific Lutheran 3, No. 10 10 UT Tyler 2

PLU 100 000 11 – 3 12 0

UTT 100 100 00 – 2 6 0

Stacey Hagensen and Katie Lowery, Kylee Oshiro (6). Heather Abshire and Chandler McCrury. W – Hagensen (13-4) L – Abshire (9-2) LOB – Pacific Lutheran 11, UT Tyler 4. 2B – PLU: Amanda Goings. UTT: Joey Cronin. HBP – PLU: Glenelle Nitta. SB – PLU: Spencer Sherwin. UTT: Joey Cronin.

Game 2

No. 10 UT Tyler 7, No. 7 Pacific Lutheran 0

PLU 000 000 0 – 0 5 0

UTT 302 011 x – 7 13 0

Katie Lowery, Leah Butters (1) and Kylee Oshiro, Lowery (1). Katelyn Thomason and Chandler McCrury. W – Thomason (11-7) L – Lowery (0-1). LOB – Pacific Lutheran 8, UT Tyler 9. 2B: PLU: Ami Gran. UTT – Ashley Endsley (2), Joey Cronin (2), Ashlee Johnson. 3B – UTT: Thomason. HBP – PLU: Kaaren Hatlen. UTT: Rachel Howell, Brittany Hay, Endsley. CS – UTT: Carli Wheeler.

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