In front of a large group of alumnae and fans gathered to send Head Coach Rob Stack off ceremoniously on Saturday, the Chadron State College softball team clinched their third bid in four years into the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference postseason, winning 9-0 and 3-1 over Adams State in Chadron.
Coach Stack was honored by the CSC athletics staff and Eagle Booster Club with a memorial gift, presented by Athletic Director Joel Smith during the intermission of the doubleheader.
“Some of these former players came from all the way over in Omaha and Lincoln,” said Stack. “For all of them to come back – especially some of that first group from I started coaching – was great. We were able to reconnect and talk about some of their experiences between games.”
During an action-packed weekend on campus which included the CSC Spring Daze carnival, the Spring Football Game, and The Big Event, Stack was unsure coming into today’s twinbill if all of the focus could be on softball.
“You never know,” said Stack, “with all the festivities and activities that are going on – Senior Weekend, and all that – what kind of mindset your players are going to have. You’re hoping that they’re thinking about the games, but at some level it’s probably secondary. That wasn’t the case. They definitely came out ready to play, hit the ball well that first game, and did just enough that second game to win.”
Jessica Jarecki pitched a complete game shutout in game one, holding Adams State to four hits and striking out six in five innings.
The Eagles rocked the Grizzlies from the outset, with the highlight being Aspen Eubanks‘ three-run homer that broke the game wide open in the first, putting CSC up 4-0. Her towering shot over straightaway center field scored Katelyn Eldredge and Kayla Michel. On the very next swing of the bat, Morgan Wilhelm made it 5-0 with a solo shot to left center.
Chadron State added a sixth run in the third when Zoe Humphries doubled for the first of two times Saturday, and Ellie Owens lined one into the right field corner for the first triple of the year in the cozy confines of CSC Softball Field.
CSC then activated the run rule in the fourth after Courtney Lecher, Sheyann Ludwig, and Lindsey Karlin each singled in order to lead the inning off, and Eubanks got her fourth and fifth RBI of the day on a single that competed the final 9-0 score.
The bottom of the doubleheader was less eventful, thanks in part to the pitching of ASU’s ace Lauren Murphy, who started as the No. 2, and CSC’s Kinsley Mason. Mason’s complete seven-inning game allowed only five hits, all singles, and she stranded four of the runners resulting from those hits.
The Grizzlies’ lone run came in the fourth, after they strung together three singles and a hit batter to bring home their only run of the day.
Owens, Humphries, and Taylor Bauer each had RBI in consecutive innings, two through four, to grab a lead early and hold on for the remainder of the contest.
Mason’s last three innings were perfect ones, and she put a punctuation mark on the performance with a strikeout swinging to end the game.
The Eagles stretched their lead in the standings over fifth-place Colorado Christian to two and a half games with the two wins and two CCU losses.
CSC kept pace with third-place Colorado Mines, who defeated second-place MSU Denver twice on Saturday.
With the two losses to MSUD, their 10th-place regional ranking could be up for grabs. Coach Stack talked about the importance of his team’s place in the region.
“We have to start looking at the regional rankings now,” he said. “The first set of rankings came out last week, and that determines who gets into the NCAA tournament. If we finish off these last six regular season games strong, especially with our performance against fourth-ranked Colorado Mesa and 10th-ranked Metro State, it maybe could vault us into that top eight, depending on how things shake out. I don’t think we can take our foot off the gas. We need to give ourselves every opportunity possible.”