BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — South Dakota State softball split the final two games of a three-game series Monday on a blustery day at Jackrabbit Softball Stadium. The Jackrabbits opened the day with a 7-2 victory but fell in the finale, 5-3.
SDSU is now 25-10 overall on the year with a 4-2 mark in league play.
Game One: South Dakota State 7, Western Illinois 2
Kendra Conard was strong over seven complete innings, scattering six hits with two runs allowed. She walked just one batter and struck out a career-high nine.
Ali Herdliska was 2-for-3 with a pair of solo home runs, while Mallory McQuistan racked up three hits, including a home run of her own. Megan Rushing and Yanney Ponce (RBI) added two hits apiece, while Baily Janssen drove in two.
State manufactured three runs in the bottom of the second, taking the lead early behind a three-hit inning. McQuistan and Rushing started the inning with back-to-back singles, and with one gone Ponce floated an RBI single up the middle to score Olivia Pfeifer (who pinch-ran for McQuistan) from second. Rushing came home from third on a wild pitch during Janssen’s at-bat, before a fly ball to center was deep enough for the sacrifice, scoring Ponce and putting the Jacks ahead, 3-0.
Herdliska’s ninth home run of the year came with two outs in the fourth, and the Jacks stretched their lead to 5-0 with another run in the fifth. A pair of WIU errors left Rushing on second with one out in the inning, and back-to-back singles from Ponce and Janssen helped her come around to score. SDSU loaded the bases later in the frame, but were unable to push the lead further.
Back-to-back home runs from Herdliska and McQuistan opened the fifth to put the Jacks on the verge of a run-rule victory, but Western Illinois danced out of danger after SDSU put runners in scoring position with one out in the inning.
WIU broke through with a run in the top of the sixth and scored another in the seventh, but the Jacks held on to even the series, 1-1.
Game Two: Western Illinois 5, South Dakota State 3
Olivia Douglas (2-2) took the loss as the starter, allowing four runs with four strikeouts through four innings. Morgan DeMarais tossed the final four innings of relief, allowing one run on three hits with a strikeout.
Julia Andersen had a home run, Herdliska tacked on another two hits and Ponce hit a double to lead the Jackrabbit offense. Janssen and Herdliska had the other RBIs for SDSU.
Andersen opened the scoring with a home run to right in the bottom of the first, but the Leathernecks answered with a four-spot in the top of the third to put SDSU in a 4-1 hole.
SDSU cut the deficit in half (4-2) after an RBI single from Janssen followed Ponce’s two-out double, but Western put together a two-out rally in the sixth to stretch its lead back to three, 5-2.
A pair of WIU errors helped the Jacks put runners on first (Andersen) and third (Torres) with one out in the seventh, and though a Herdliska sacrifice fly drew the Jacks back within two (5-3), the comeback fell short as WIU took the rubber game for the series.
- South Dakota State is now 12-26 all-time against Western Illinois
- Kendra Conard reset her career-high for strikeouts (nine)
- Ali Herdliska now has five multi-home run games in her career
South Dakota State heads for Minnesota for a nonleague, midweek contest Wednesday. First pitch in Minneapolis is set for 4 p.m.