Poised to claim another come-from-behind win, CSU’s women’s softball team fell just short in the championship game of the Troy Cox Classic Sunday.
Having played with fire for the duration of the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces, N.M., dodging come from behind attempts from opponents while putting up one of their own, the Rams failed to catch the Rebels of Mississippi State University in the finale, losing 5-3.
Leading 2-1 in the top of the seventh, the Rebels put together a rally on Rams’ starting pitcher Megan Masser (2-2), capped off by shortstop Jennifer Jaspers two-out, two-run triple, to give the team a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom half of the inning.
The Rams, however, refused to give up and put together their own rally against all-tournament pitcher Melissa Massey – who finished the tournament 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA – getting an RBI double from senior Jen Mahoney and an RBI single from freshman Genevieve Kelly before Rebel Stephanie Owens relieved Massey and forced shortstop Brittany Burtner to line out for the last out of the game.
“We really battled out there against Mississippi State,” head coach Mary Yori said. “They are a top-40 program that went to the playoffs last year and for us to know that we could have beaten them is a huge plus for us.”
The pluses struck early and often for the Rams in the Classic, most notably in the team’s 8-4 come-from-behind victory over the Missouri Tigers.
“To come back against Missouri was huge for us,” Yori said. “It was the biggest win we’ve had this year and could have been the biggest win we have had the past two years.”
After Masser allowed Missouri to take a 4-0 advantage, giving up a three-run homerun in the sixth, the Rams managed to battle back starting with a three-run homerun from a former Tiger.
Two seasons ago, after a disappointing freshman season at Missouri, junior first baseman Ricki Walker transferred to CSU, and in Friday’s victory enacted some revenge on her former team.
“Her homerun is a story itself,” Yori said. “It was a big moment for her and the team. It was sweet revenge for her and it really propelled us toward victory.”
Following Walker’s home run – which cut the Tigers’ lead to 4-3 – the Rams rallied for five more runs over the last two innings while keeping Missouri’s bats quiet en route to the win.
The Rams took the momentum of that comeback victory into day two of the tournament, when they beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 3-2 and New Mexico State 2-0.
Walker continued to swing the bat well in both games going a combined 5-for-6 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs. Genevieve Kelly (1-2) picked up the first win of her career against A&M-Corpus Christi, while Melanie Mahoney (1-2) pitched a complete-game shutout to win her first game of the season against New Mexico State.
Walker, who finished the tournament leading all participants in average (.643), hits (nine), and RBIs (six), was named to the all-tournament team at first base. Steph Roberts earned the same honor at second base after helping lead the Rams to a tournament-best .987 fielding percentage.
By finishing 4-1 overall in the tournament, the Rams boosted their record to 6-6 and now have a lot of time between games due to the 11 inches of snow covering Tulsa, Okla., the site of the cancelled Tulsa Festival, which the Rams had planned on competing in this weekend.
“We’re very disappointed by (the cancellation),” Yori said. “We’ve been playing well and were hoping to take that momentum up against some quality opponents. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to do that.”