ABILENE – Holly Neese buried a three-run home run in the first inning, Peyton Hedrick finished a double shy of the cycle, and both Hannah Null and Sidney Holman recorded strikeouts in the clutch to lead Abilene Christian softball to a 6-2 win over North Texas Wednesday evening at Poly Wells Field.
The Wildcats are now 27-16 on the season with nine Southland Conference games left on the schedule, while North Texas – which came into tonight’s game with a 12-1 record vs. Texas schools – fell to 22-22.
Null pitched the first 5.0 innings and was stellar from the start, striking out North Texas’s No. 3 and 4 batters in the first after leadoff hitter Kelli Schkade reached third base following a ground ball to Hedrick at shortstop. She then retired the next six batters she faced with three Ks and pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the fourth with a swinging strikeout of Rhylie Makawe.
Schkade and North Texas finally got to Null with two outs in the fifth after the Albany, Texas, native crushed a two-run home run over the wall in left center that cut ACU’s lead to 4-2. Null got the next batter to fly out to right and turned the game over to Holman in the sixth with a comfortable 6-2 lead.
Holman finished her 2.0-inning relief outing with five strikeouts, but none was bigger than the one of Schkade with runners at the corners and one out. Holman got behind in the count 3-2, and then Schkade fouled off four consecutive pitches before missing on pitch No. 10 of the at-bat. Lindsay Gregory struck out to end the game on a four-pitch at-bat, lifting Holman’s season strikeout total to 136. Null has 108 Ks on the spring.
ACU’s offense pounded out 10 hits led by Hedrick’s 3-for-3 effort at the plate. She followed Taylor Brown’s leadoff single with a hit through the left side, and scored two batters later on Neese’s fourth home run of the year. In the second inning, Hedrick dropped a triple over the outstretched glove of right fielder Hannah Rebar, scoring Kaleigh Singleton to make it a 4-0 game, and in the fifth she set a new career-season high with 13 home runs by drilling a two-run shot off the scoreboard vs. reliever Stacey Underwood.
Hedrick was left in the on-deck circle at the end of the seventh as reliever Lauren Craine tossed a 1-2-3 inning on seven pitches.
Brown finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs, and left fielder Braegan Hamilton recorded two singles to center field.
The Wildcats return to action Friday for the start of a three-game series at Sam Houston State. ACU and the Bearkats play a 3 p.m. doubleheader Friday and a 3 p.m. game Saturday.