Loper softball team loses two close games Friday

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HASTINGS, Neb.-- Cleanup hitter Myranda Stewart hit two home runs to help Missouri Southern State sweep a double header from Nebraska-Kearney, 4-3 and 5-2, Friday evening in Hastings.

Both games lasted eighth innings. Due to wet field conditions at Dryden Park in Kearney, the contests were played at Smith Softball Complex. UNK will also host Pittsburg State in Hastings on Sunday afternoon.

Papillion freshman Sara Sempek was poised for a 2-0 win in the night cap as she allowed just four hits and no walks over the first six innings. However, Stewart drew ball four on a 3-2 count to start the seventh

After a fielder's choice, two Lions singled to load the bases. A sac fly to center put MSSU on the board and then a wild pitch brought home the tying run. On the play, Sempek appeared to have covered home plate but catcher Angel Badalamenti (2 for 4) was ruled safe.

With two down in the bottom of the seventh, UNK had runners at first and second. However, relief pitcher Taurean Guzman (6-7) got a ground out to end the inning and threat. Despite allowing nine hits, she shut out the Lopers over the final six innings.

Back-to-back singles with one down got the Lions going in the eighth. Stewart, a third baseman, then unloaded them with a homer to right center. In game one, she hit a two-run shot to left center to help her team grab a quick lead.

UNK put another two runners on in its half of the eighth but a ground out ended the game. The Lopers out hit the Lions, 12-10, but also left 12 runners on base.

Junior first baseman Emilee Jonas (Omaha Skutt) and freshman catcher Alexis Howe (Papillion-LaVista) both went 3 for 4. Jonas went yard in the second inning to bring home UNK's runs.

In game one, the Lopers out hit MSSU by a 7-3 margin but never led thanks to Stewart's home. The Lions added an unearned run in the third and appeared to be headed for a 3-1 win.

However, with two down and two on in the bottom of the seventh, senior second baseman Molly Stern (Peoria, Ariz.) belted the first pitch she saw over the right field wall to force extra innings. It was her team-leading fourth dinger of the spring.

The momentum was short lived as Mo Southern used a leadoff walk, sac bunt, wild pitch and ground out to score the game winner. Guzman picked up her third save as she got two ground outs to end the game.

The double dip against the mighty Gorillas (28-10, 7-3) starts at noon.