Lumberjacks & Lancers Exchange 4-2 Wins in Doubleheader Split

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Stephen F. Austin Softball team (16-38, 9-16) split the Friday evening doubleheader with the host California Baptist Lancers (29-23, 16-7) as the Lancers took game one 4-2, before SFA responded with a massive 4-2 win in the second game of the doubleheader as they became just the second WAC team this season to defeat the Lancers on their home turf.

Game 1: CBU 4. SFA 2

The opening game of the doubleheader pitted Alexis Telford in the circle for SFA against Presley Hosick for the Lancers. The Lancers struck first at home as in the bottom of the first they would push across a run off an RBI double to take an early 1-0 lead. SFA would not be kept off the board much longer though as the bottom of the SFA lineup came through in a big way in the bottom of the third as Brittany Coe would smoke a double down the right-field line to score Mikaelah Burkland from first and tie the game at one run apiece. The Lancers would plate a pair of runs to regain a 3-1 lead, however, SFA would not back down without a fight as in the top of the sixth with two outs and Chloe Reneau at first, Mikaelah Burkland would continue her late-season power surge as she sent a towering flyball to left centerfield that bounced off the base of the wall to score Reneau from first and trim the Lancers lead down to a single run at 3-2. CBU would add an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth and would eventually hang on for a series-opening 4-2 win over SFA.

The bottom of the Lumberjack lineup came through for the SFA offense today as the sixth through ninth hitters for SFA all recorded hits in game one. Chloe Reneau (1-2, R, BB) was a common sight on the basepaths as she reached base in two of her three at-bats, while Mallory Webb (1-2) recorded a base hit of her own. Meanwhile, Mikaelah Burkland (1-2, R, 2B, RBI, BB) and Brittany Coe (1-3, 2B, RBI) brought the pop as both recorded RBI doubles for the Lumberjacks, as Burkland stuffed the stat sheet by reaching base twice while Coe got the SFA scoring started in the third inning.

Alexis Telford drew the start in the circle for SFA and pitched four innings, inducing five flyouts and seven groundouts from the Lancers before handing the ball over to Kayla Palomino. Palomino pitched two innings of relief for the ‘Jacks and allowed just one run over her two innings while forcing five flyouts and one groundout from the CBU batters, with Kelby Robbins leading the way defensively with seven putouts at first base.

Game 2: SFA 4, CBU 2

Game two of the doubleheader saw the Lumberjacks flip the script from the first game as they wasted no time getting on the board by putting up a pair of runs in the first to take an early 2-0 lead. The scoring got started with Chloe Reneau, who reached on an error to leadoff the game, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Madison Nguyen, and then took third on a wild pitch. Lexi Benson would draw a six-pitch walk two batters later and promptly stole second to put a pair of runners in scoring position for SFA. Mikaelah Burkland continued her strong stretch of hitting as she would line a single into center field to record her second RBI of the series and score Reneau to give SFA a 1-0 lead. Emily Land would step in one batter later and sent a flyball to centerfield, which was plenty deep to score Benson from third and plate another run for SFA, who now led 2-0.

That score would stand until the top of the seventh inning as SFA would grab a pair of insurance runs late that proved to be the difference maker in this one. Madison Nguyen would secure a critical insurance run for SFA by smoking a double to left center with two outs to score Alex Dubose from second and extend the SFA lead to 3-0. However, the SFA offense wasn’t done scoring in the seventh as one batter later, Lexi Benson would step into the batter’s box and lined a ball into centerfield to score Nguyen from second and give SFA a 4-0 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh. The Lancers would not go down easy in the bottom of the seventh as they would push across a pair of runs to cut the SFA lead in half at 4-2 with two outs. However, Alexis Telford would be called on for her first save of the season and she had no trouble recording the final out for SFA, helping to secure the critical 4-2 win for the Lumberjacks.

Ellie Vance (2-3) continues to be her usual consistent self at the plate as she led the team with a pair of hits in game two to maintain her team-leading batting average. However, Vance wasn’t the only Lumberjack to have success at the plate as Madison Nguyen (1-3, 2B, RBI, R), Lexi Benson (1-2, 2 BB, RBI, R), and Mikaelah Burkland (1-4, RBI) formed a terrific hitting trio of their own as all three came through in the clutch for SFA with RBI hits. Emily Land (0-2, RBI) came through in a big spot for SFA as well as she picked up her 13th RBI of the season. Mallory Webb (1-3) recorded her second straight game with a hit, while Alex Dubose (0-1, BB, R) and Chloe Reneau (0-4, R) both scored vital runs in game two for SFA. Reneau has now reached base safely in four of her last five games, while Burkland has now recorded a hit in four of her last five games including back-to-back games with an RBI, and Vance has now recorded two multi-hit games in her last three contests.

Brooke Gainous pitched another strong outing for the Lumberjacks as she tossed 6.2 innings, allowing just two runs while walking just one batter and striking out a pair of hitters in route to picking up her team-leading sixth win of the season. Alexis Telford continues to show her versatility as she secured her first save of the season by recording the final out in tonight’s contest shortly after throwing four innings in the series opener. Meanwhile, Alex Dubose continues her stellar defensive season as she added onto her team lead in putouts by leading the team with an impressive 11 putouts in game two from her usual first base spot.

The Lumberjacks will be back in action tomorrow, May 4th for the series finale against the Lancers. First pitch for tomorrow’s game is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CST. You can watch all the action on ESPN+, as well as follow along on the SFA Softball social media accounts for all the updates or by keeping track with live stats provided on the SFA Athletics website.

By: Peter Trainor, Student Assistant for Strategic Communications