Kearney, Neb. – Senior Meg Housholder won in her 100th pitching appearance and freshman Sarah Handrahan picked up a save to help Nebraska-Kearney beat Fort Hays State, 7-5, in game one of a doubleheader Sunday evening at Dryden Park. Hailey Chapman tossed a three-hit complete game shutout in the nightcap to power the Tigers to a 2-0 victory. These were the final MIAA games for both teams; the two clubs will play a non-conference doubleheader Monday in Kansas. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. Playing just its seventh and eighth home games of the year, UNK (15-28, 11-15) got out to a 5-0 lead in game one but had to hang as the Tigers (12-36, 8-18) hit 10 singles in its final two at-bats. Housholder (Parker, Colo.) gave way to senior Abbey Martin (Pleasant Grove, Utah) in a four-run sixth for Hays. In the bottom of the inning, UNK added two key insurance runs thanks to a two-out error.
Hays again dinked and dunked its way to load the bases with no outs in the seventh. Handrahan (Festus, Mo.) came in and promptly got two outs. After second baseman Veronica Knittig (3 for 4) hit an RBI single to center, Handrahan got a pop up to second to end the game. Housholder improved to 8-6 by fanning two and walking in five innings of work. Throwing 80 pitches, she allowed four earned on 10 singles. She is now sixth in career pitching starts (66), seventh in pitching appearances (100) and ninth in strikeouts thrown (237). Offensively, nine-hole hitter and shortstop Kaitlyn Johnson (Kearney H.S.) went 3 for 3 with two runs and an RBI and senior leadoff hitter and right fielder Kaela Samek (Lincoln Pius) was 2 for 4 with a run and RBI. Finally, sophomore left fielder Alexis Howe (Papillion) hit her fourth homer of the year.
Chapman dominated in game two, cruising through the first six innings before UNK tried to rally in the seventh. She had 10 K’s, two walks and retired nine Lopers in a row at one point. Only sophomore center fielder Alexis Ray (Platte City, Mo.) figured her out, going 2 for 3 from the two hole. Hays managed just five singles and a double against sophomore Erin Hallman (Lakewood, Colo.). They scored an unearned run in the first and added an insurance run in the fifth. Hallman went the distance, fanning three and walking one. The Lopers used two walks and a bloop single to load the bases in its final at-bat. However, Chapman got a ground out to second to win for the fifth time in 25 decisions. Afterwards, UNK honored its four seniors; Housholder, Martin, Samek and Emilee Jonas (Omaha Skutt) who missed 2018 due to injury.