Conard, Jackrabbits win tournament opener

Photo from www.gojacks.com.

FARGO, N.D. – Kendra Conard tossed a two-hitter as fourth-seeded South Dakota State defeated fifth-seeded North Dakota 4-2 in the first round of the Summit League Softball Championship on Wednesday at Tharaldson Park at the Ellig Sports Complex.

The Jackrabbits (35-15) take on host and top-seeded North Dakota State (38-13) today at noon.

Conard (16-3) struck out four batters and walked four in her 11th complete game of the season. She retired the first nine batters she faced and had a no-hitter through 4 2/3 innings.

Julia Andersen drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first and Ali Herdliska followed with a single. Both players advanced on a wild pitch.

Megan Rushing plated Andersen with a sacrifice fly in foul territory and Herdliska sprinted home on a wild pitch soon thereafter to make it 2-0.

The Fighting Hawks got their first baserunner in the fourth, as Jailene Carpio drew a leadoff walk. A pair of groundouts and a strikeout ended the threat.

The Jackrabbits doubled their lead in the bottom of the fourth.

Yanney Ponce walked with one away and Baily Janssen singled.

Pinch-hitter Paige Gerdes lifted a two-run double over the left fielder with two outs.

UND drew another leadoff walk in the fifth, with Ashlyn Uvila reaching base.

Conard induced a pair of flyouts, before walking Deja Miller and Alyssa Rios to load the bases.

Carpio blooped a two-run single up the left-field line, just out of the reach of a diving Lyndsey Crist. That broke up the no-hitter and pulled the Fighting Hawks within 4-2 on the scoreboard. Rios was thrown out attempting to advance to third on the play.

Conard worked around a leadoff single in the sixth and then sat UND down in order in the seventh to seal the deal.

Rushing finished 2-for-3. Andersen, who walked twice, had SDSU’s other hit.

The Jackrabbits left nine runners on base.

Jannay Jones took the loss after giving up four runs on four hits and three walks with two strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. Nikki Pica allowed two hits, walked two and struck out one over the final 2 1/3.

North Dakota concluded the season with a 22-34 record.

Notes: UND took two of three games from SDSU in the regular-season series April 27-28 in Grand Forks. … The Bison beat the Jackrabbits 5-0 and 1-0 on April 14 in Fargo. SDSU won Game 3 by a 6-2 margin on April 15. … SDSU is now 4-10 in seven tournament appearances – 0-2 in 2010 and 2014, 1-2 in 2015, 0-1 in 2016 and 2017, 2-2 in 2018 and 1-0 in 2019.

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 4, NORTH DAKOTA 2

UND   000 020 0    2  2  1

SDSU 200 200 x    4  6  0

Jannay Jones, Nikki Pica (4) and Alicia Young, Alyssa Rios (4); Kendra Conard and Mallory McQuistan. W – Conard (16-3). L – Jones (8-15). 2B: SDSU, Paige Gerdes.

 Purdue Fort Wayne 7, Western Illinois 5 (8 inn.)

The sixth-seeded Mastodons scored six unanswered runs to shock the third-seeded Leathernecks.

WIU led 5-1 at the end of four innings.

PFW scored twice in the sixth, and then got an RBI single from Morganne Denny and an RBI double by Brooke Imel in the seventh to knot the score at 5-all.

Aabby Baez stroked a two-run double in the first extra frame to give the Mastodons the lead, and they held on in the bottom of the inning.

Imel, Denny, Baez and Lacey Wilzbacher each totaled a pair of hits.

Lauren McConnell threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win. Alyssa Malicki recorded the final two outs to tally the save.

For Western Illinois (20-20), Hailey Duwa had a pair of RBIs. Emily Ira gave up seven runs – six earned – on 11 hits with 13 strikeouts and a walk in 7 1/3 innings while taking the loss.

Purdue Fort Wayne (10-37) takes on No. 2 South Dakota (31-24) today at 2:30 p.m.

The loser of that game faces the NDSU/SDSU loser in an elimination game at 5 p.m.

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