USF softball earns win over Northern State in NSIC Tournament


ROCHESTER, MINN (USF)– Senior Mika Rodriguez hit a two-run home run and scored what proved to be the game-winning run as the University of Sioux Falls Softball Team (23-23) recorded a 3-2 victory over Northern State (23-20) to advance in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Softball Tournament on Friday (May 14) in Rochester, Minn.

In a win and advance game, the Cougars also had a combined solid effort in the pitcher’s circle from Hanna Cress, who started, and Kaitlyn Van Der Zwaag (13-9) who finished and earned the win. The victory moved USF to 23-23 overall and into a fourth round game with the winner of St. Cloud State and Minnesota State.

Cress allowed just three hits and a run in 4 1/3 innings while registering five strikeouts with one walk in throwing 61 pitches. Van Der Zwaag earned her 13th win with 2 2/3 innings of solid relief. In throwing 44 pitches – 30 strikes – the sophomore pitcher allowed just three hits and a run with two strikeouts. Van Der Zwaag and Cress, who had 41 strikes in her 60 pitches, combined for seven strikeouts and walked just one hitter.

Rodriguez hit her fifth home run of the season and 18th of her career to give USF a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Kylan Straight had walked to open the inning and after two outs, Rodriguez took the ball over the fence for an early USF advantage. Rodriguez ended the game with two hits and two runs scored in three at bats. After NSU scored single runs in the fourth and sixth innings, USF was able to get the go-ahead tally in the bottom of the sixth inning as Rodriguez had a leadoff single and scored on an RBI groundout by Damaris Cuevas.

Rodriguez is now 5-of-10 for .500 through three games at the NSIC Tourney. She has scored four runs with three RBI and has a .800 slugging mark and .500 OBP. Shayla Running, who had a hit today, is batting .444 with four hits in nine at bats while Cuevas is batting .429 with three hits and two RBI. Cassie Van Beek, whose bunt single in the sixth inning advanced Rodriguez to second base, has four hits in 10 at bats for a .400 average. Van Beek had two hits in three trips against NSU.

As a team USF is hitting .312 through three games at the NSIC Tourney. The Cougars have 14 hits, including two home runs and three doubles, and a .429 slugging mark as well as a .376 on-base percentage. USF is 5-of-5 in stolen bases.

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