Eric R. Flores
The Paw Print
Adams State College junior Marissa Elsberry pitched a combined 11 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run while the Lovato sisters (Jaycee & Katelyn) combined to tie school records in each of the three games of a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference triple header in which the Grizzlies claimed wins in the first two games over the visiting New Mexico Highlands University Cowgirls, Saturday at the ASC Softball Field.
The Grizzlies, who improved to 9-10 overall and to 8-9 in conference action, also got a clutch 3-run home run from sophomore Rebecca Lindquist and a solid pitching effort from older sister Sarah to take the first game 4-3, before Jaycee Lovato hit two of the Grizzlies’ season-high four homers in Adams State’s 7-1 second game win.
However, the Cowgirls (11-17, 7-12 RMAC) opened a 6-1 lead and held on for a 6-4 win in the third contest spoiling a record-tying effort by freshman centerfielder Katelyn Lovato.
Jaycee Lovato, who matched Grizzly assistant coach Kira Zeiter’s 2006 record (1998-Present) by drawing four walks in the first game, also added a homer in the third game and finished the day 4-for-6 with five walks, three homers, and four runs scored.
Her two Game 2 homers also allowed her to become the first Grizzly this season and the 25th in ASC’s NCAA Division II era history (1992-Present) to hit a pair in the same game.
Her younger sister Katelyn then got into the record-tying mood as she recorded at least one hit in every game extending her consecutive game hitting streak to 19 games, equaling student assistant coach Shannon Galanek’s NCAA Division II era record.
Meanwhile, Elsberry was dominant, allowing just seven combined hits while striking out eight total Cowgirls in her complete Game 2 win and 4 1/3 innings of nearly perfect relief of unrelated Rachel Lovato, roughed up for 10 hits and six runs, four of which were earned, in the early going of Game 3.
The first game was tight throughout and saw the Grizzlies strike first in the bottom of the second as two Cowgirl errors helped the Grizzlies take a 1-0 lead on a Tarah Campagnola RBI fielder’s choice that plated Sarah Lindquist.
Lindquist, who retired 10 straight Cowgirls before a Martina Chavez bloop-single landed just inside the right field line in the top of fifth, was then pegged for four hits and three runs in the top of the sixth as a Andin Anderson infield single tied the game moments before Ashley Bryan gave the Cowgirls a 3-1 lead with a 2-run double that scored both Anderson and Tara Groff.
However, the Grizzlies wasted little time in answering back as Rebecca Lindquist drilled a 3-and-1 Ashley Paiz pitch over the right field fence with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to the give the Grizzlies a 4-3 lead before Sarah Lindquist made relatively quick work of the Cowgirls in the top of the seventh completing what was her fifth win of the campaign.
Now 5-3 on the year, Lindquist gave up just six hits and two walks while striking out six Cowgirls. Meanwhile, Paiz fell to 2-3 on the year despite not giving up a single earned run. However, she did hand out six free passes and gave up five hits in her six innings of work.
The Grizzlies also took an early 1-0 lead in Game 2 as Rebecca Lindquist reached base on a Cowgirl error while driving home Katelyn Lovato, who had began the first inning with an infield single.
The Cowgirls would come back to tie the game at 1 in the top of the fourth on Chavez RBI single, one of the six hits she would have on the day.
However, the Grizzlies then got homer happy in the bottom of the fourth as Jaycee Lovato and Lizzy Schossow hit shots over the fence on back-to-back pitches putting the Grizzlies up for good.
They then extended their lead to 5-1 later in the inning on DJ Consonero and Katelyn Lovato RBI, part of a 4-run, 6-hit frame.
With a comfortable 4-run lead, Elsberry then cruised to the win as Jaycee Lovato and freshman Selina Pacheco added security solo homers in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, to complete the scoring. Elsberry gave up just four hits and a lone unearned run in the affair while Pacheco and both Lovato sisters ended the game with two hits.
Groff fell to 1-8 on the season after allowing nine hits and six earned runs in her complete game effort.
With a season-best 4-game win streak heading into the third game, the Grizzlies then fell behind quickly as the Cowgirls banged out 13 total hits, including 10 in the first three innings alone, taking a 3-0 lead after the top of the first before a Jaycee Lovato homer, her team-leading sixth of the season, cut the gap slightly in the bottom of the second.
The Cowgirls, who went homer-less while giving up eight to the Grizzlies throughout the day, then manufactured three more runs in the top of the third as a 2-out, 2-run Anderson double put the visitors on top 6-1 while driving Rachel Lovato out of the game.
Elsberry then shut the door on the Cowgirls, who left 27 total runners on base including 11 in Game 3 alone, for the rest of the game allowing just three hits while retiring each of the last seven batters she faced.
Meanwhile, the Grizzly offensive attack got going as a 2-run Schossow homer, her second of the day and fourth of the season, closed the gap to 6-3 through four innings before a Katelyn Lovato lead-off infield single in the bottom of the fifth allowed her to tie Galanek’s record.
The Grizzlies would go on to load the bases later in that inning as Rebecca Lindquist and Jaycee Lovato both drew walks but could not manage any runs as New Mexico Highlands freshman pitcher Melissa Martinez barely got out of the jam as freshman Andrea Brew sent a towering fly-ball to left field that got caught up in strong winds while falling just short of what would have been her first career grand slam and into the glove of left fielder Chanel Ewing.
Martinez, who improved to 6-3 after spreading out eight hits, four runs and two walks while striking out 11 Grizzlies, was in complete control in the bottom of the sixth but gave up a solo homer to Katelyn Lovato, her second of the season, to begin the seventh as the Grizzlies remained alive, down just 6-4.
However, Martinez then retired the next three Grizzly hitters, two of them on strikes, to complete the game while giving the Cowgirls their first win over the Grizzlies in 13 tries.
Anderson, who went 5-for-11 (.455) and Chavez had three hits each in the victory to lead the Cowgirls, who had not defeated ASC since 2007.
The Grizzlies, who now stand in seventh place overall in the tightening RMAC overall standings, will now play their next 14 games away from home, starting on Saturday when the Grizzlies then go to RMAC West Division leading Western New Mexico (18-15, 14-7 RMAC), which dropped both games of a doubleheader at Fort Lewis (13-15, 12-10 RMAC).