ABILENE - Abilene Christian softball received quite an offensive jolt Sunday with home runs coming off the bats of seniors Courtney Flanary and Lyndi Smith, but even those two cannon blasts couldn't offset an agonizing day in the circle for all three Wildcat pitchers during a 10-7 loss to Lamar at Poly Wells Field.
Starter Peyton Mosley and relievers Hannah Null (11-8) and Emily Seidel all struggled with their control as they combined for 11 walks to go along with two wild pitches and two hit batters. The Wildcats' defense also made a critical error with two outs in a rain-delayed fifth that helped the Cardinals score three unearned runs.
After being down 4-0 to start the contest, ACU (17-22, 6-5 Southland) rallied to tie the score behind a three-run home run by Flanary in the third and a two-out error made by Lamar left fielder Jenna Holland.
Unfortunately, the score didn't remain deadlocked for long.
With a runner on first base and one out in the fifth, freshman Hannah Null was in the midst of her third inning of work when rain began to fall. But with no lightning detected in the area, the teams continued to play through a moderate downfall even as Null experienced trouble gripping and releasing the ball - often turning to a towel hooked on her waist.
A wild pitch, however, soon followed to advance Candyce Carter to second, and after Beverly Corry flew out to center for the second out, Lamar (19-16, 12-5 Southland) took the lead for good on the second of two RBI doubles by Tina Schulz.
Schulz' rip bounced just inside the foul line along the third-base side, allowing Carter to easily score from second to give Lamar a 5-4 lead. And on the next play, ACU second baseman Kaylee Crozier bobbled a ground ball off the bat of Brynn Baca for what should have been the third out.
Null then walked Ashley McDowell to load the bases and fell behind 3-0 in the count to Julianne Viator when the game was halted for 35 minutes due to a mix of rain, hail and lightning.
When play resumed, Null was still in the circle and her first pitch to Viator missed inside for a ball-four RBI that pushed Lamar's lead to 6-4. Two more bases-loaded walks followed before Null was pulled in favor of Seidel, who finally got the third out with a ground ball to shortstop.
But trouble quickly found Seidel in the sixth as she started the inning with a walk to Carter and hit Corry with a pitch. The Cardinal runners moved up a base on a wild pitch and - again with two outs - McDowell crushed a double off the wall in right field to give Lamar a comfortable 10-4 lead.
Of the 10 runs scored by Lamar this afternoon, eight were scored with two outs, while Stephanie Meeuwsen (in the first) and Schulz (in the fifth) were the only Cardinals to score after reaching on a base hit. The eight other Lamar runners who scored all got on base either on a walk, error, hit-by-pitch or fielder's choice.
Even as the game was virtually decided going into the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats kept clawing away as Crozier came home to score on a wild pitch and Smith delivered a two-run bomb - her ninth of the spring - to plate both her and Madison Buckley.
Shannon Millman (8-8) started for Lamar and gave up four runs - three earned - on two hits and three walks. Lauren Dannelley then earned her first save of 2014 after pitching effectively over the last three innings.
Dannelley retired the first six Wildcats she faced and didn't surrender a hit until the seventh when pinch hitter Cara Hoover chopped a shot over the head of Cardinal third baseman Casey Cromwell.
The Wildcats return to action next weekend for a three-game series at Sam Houston State. They will then battle UT-Arlington in the third game of their series on April 23 before coming home to finish the regular season against Houston Baptist (April 26-27) and Incarnate Word (May 3-4).
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