SOFTBALL: YellowJackets sweep UT-Dallas for first ASC East wins
LONGVIEW – Usually, teams have to score their own runs to narrow a deficit.
But not always.
In a sequence of events that arguably changed the momentum of the entire series, the visiting UT-Dallas Comets saw their fifth inning, 5-1 lead over LeTourneau reverted back to 4-1 in the first game of a doubleheader that the YellowJackets would eventually sweep.
Behind a 6-for-7 day from Christin Mickelboro (Longview, Texas/Longview), the Jackets won game one by a final score of 8-4. LeTourneau (11-9, 2-6 ASC East) then claimed another come-from-behind victory in the second game by a margin of 4-2, giving the YellowJackets their first two conference wins of the season.
Owning a 2-1 lead after four innings of game one, the Comets added a pair of runs when Brittanie Knowles knocked a bases-loaded single up the middle, and then advanced to second on a fielding error. With only one out and runners in scoring position, the Comets stretched their lead even further when pinch hitter Courtney Kuebler knocked an RBI single to left.
Or so they thought.
LeTourneau coaches Mike VanBrocklin and Kate Bell appealed to the umpires that Kuebler had been inserted into the game as a pinch hitter in the No. 7 slot for Alyssa Fincher. That was the switch the UT-Dallas coaching staff had reported to the umpires, but they intended for Kuebler to bat in the No. 6 slot for pitcher Heather Foust.
When Kuebler singled in the No. 6 slot, LeTourneau successfully appealed. Foust was ruled out, the runners returned to second and third and UT-Dallas' score was reset to four. Moments later, LeTourneau pitcher Taylor Thibodeaux (Angleton, Texas/Angleton) got Kuebler – now batting in the proper slot – to strike out swinging.
The YellowJackets wasted little time erasing the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Kayla Blucher (San Antonio, Texas/Reagan) led off with a double, stole third and then came home on a throwing error attempting to catch her stealing.
With runners on first and third and two outs, the Jackets cut the lead to 4-3 when a passed ball allowed Juliana Tuel (White Oak, Texas/White Oak) to score and Mickelboro to move to second base. One pitch later, Ashley McPhail (Katy, Texas/Faith Academy) knocked Mickelboro home on an RBI single to tie the game.
McPhail quickly moved into position as she stole second with Jourdan Glover (Fort Worth, Texas/Southwest Christian) at the plate. Glover then returned the favor by knocking in McPhail with the go-ahead run.
The swing in momentum continued into the sixth inning when Tuel, Mickelboro and McPhail knocked RBIs to stretch the Jackets' lead to 8-4. The trio, along with Anna Winter (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) knocked consecutive hits with two outs in the inning.
Mickelboro went 4-for-4 with three runs scored in the first game, while McPhail, Winter and Tuel collected two base hits in the game. McPhail drove in two runs while Blucher scored twice in the game.
Thibodeaux ended up with the win after pitching 2 2/3 innings of relief. She followed that performance with a five-strikeout, complete-game win in the second game of the doubleheader.
The Jackets took the lead for good in the second game when Nos. 8 and 9 hitters Robin Waggoner (Henderson, Texas/Henderson) and Kayla Blucher knocked consecutive RBI fielder's choices, scoring Winter and McPhail, respectively.
The YellowJackets return to action Friday when they play the first two games of a four-game series with the University of the Ozarks at the LETU Softball Field. Doubleheader start time for Friday and Saturday is 1 p.m.