AMES, Iowa – Mallory McQuistan, Ali Herdliska and Lyndsey Crist homered as South Dakota State scored all its runs via the longball during an 8-6 defeat of Eastern Kentucky in a National Invitational Softball Championship Ames Regional game Thursday afternoon at Cyclone Sports Complex.
The Jackrabbits (37-17) matched the Division I-era school record for victories in a season.
SDSU takes on host Iowa State (33-23) in a winner’s bracket game today at 1 p.m. The Cyclones beat Purdue 6-1 on Thursday after the Boilermakers dropped South Dakota 4-3 in eight innings in the opening round.
The Coyotes (33-27) and Colonels (34-21) have an elimination game at 10 a.m. The winner of that game faces Purdue (32-28) in another elimination contest at 4 p.m.
McQuistan, who finished 3-for-4, and Ali Herdliska blasted three-run shots and Crist added a two-run homer versus EKU.
Julia Andersen was 2-for-4 with a double.
Kendra Conard (18-5) pitched her 13th complete game of the year, giving up six runs – three earned – on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
The Colonels struck first with a run in the bottom of the second inning.
Megan Rushing walked to lead off the fifth and Crist drove the first pitch she saw over the fence in center field. EKU pulled even at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning.
Amdersen opened the sixth with a two-bagger and Herdliska reached on an error. McQuistan was up next, and she blasted the first pitch of the at-bat to left for a three-run homer.
EKU added a run in the sixth to pull within 5-3.
Paige Gerdes’ pinch-hit double with one away in the seventh started another Jackrabbit rally. Peyton Daugherty followed with a single.
With two outs, Herdliska worked a 2-1 count before connecting on a three-run bomb to left-center field that made it 8-3.
EKU took advantage of an error to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh.
Erica Bowers stroked a two-run single with one away. Brooke Harrison drove in a run with a groundout to cut the deficit to 8-6. Leadoff hitter Sammi Miller – the potential winning run – grounded out to Conard to end the game.
Notes: SDSU improved to 4-2 in two tourney appearances. The Jackrabbits reached the regional final last year. … Herdliska has 47 career home runs – one off the Summit League record. She’s hit 15 this season. … Conard’s 18 wins this season are tied for the fourth most in SDSU history.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 8, EASTERN KENTUCKY 6
South Dakota State 000 023 3 – 8 9 4
Eastern Kentucky 010 011 3 – 6 5 1
Kendra Conard and Mallory McQuistan; Samantha Reynoso, Mollie Paulick (4), Murphy McRoberts (6) and Zoe Mihalicz. W – Conard (18-5). L – Reynoso (11-3). 2B: SDSU, Julia Andersen, Paige Gerdes; EKU, Emily Corbitt, Brooke Harrison. HR: SDSU, McQuistan, Ali Herdliska, Crist.