LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – Cierra McGee drove in the winning run to back a strong start from Madison McKinney in game one, and though the Eagles (20-19, 14-9 KCAC) put the winning run on base in the seventh after a strong start from Morgan Senevey in game two, they could not find the go-ahead hit the second time around, resulting in a split with Saint Mary (13-32, 7-17 KCAC) on Tuesday afternoon.
A sweep against a Spire team outside of KCAC Tournament contention would have done wonders for Avila's playoff seeding, but Saint Mary did just enough to prevent that from happening. Avila struck first in game one on Tuesday when Trinity Morris was hit by a pitch for an insane 14th time this season and came around to score when Saint Mary's shortstop couldn't handle a hit off the bat of Emily Walton.
McKinney had settled into a bit of a groove but Saint Mary managed to even the score in the fifth on a two-out RBI double from Hailey Reece. Kennedee Meier threw Reece out trying to stretch it into a triple and the Eagles put two runners on in the top of the seventh but could not bring them home.
Saint Mary then had a shot to win it in the home half when pinch-runner Isabelle McCarty stole second and was sacrificed to third, but McKinney locked it down, getting a popout and then striking out pinch-hitter Josefina Gutierrez to end the threat and send the game into extras.
This time, the Eagles capitalized on their scoring chance. Brooke Day started the inning by sacrificing the automatic runner Chelsea Kurtz over to third, and McGee brought her home with a single back up the middle. Talley Cole came on to run for McGee and after Morris drew a walk a passed ball by Saint Mary catcher Allyson Dias put both runners in scoring position, but the Eagles could not extend the lead.
The Spires then took the same approach to the home half of the eighth, sacrificing their automatic runner to third. Reece then worked a walk and took second, but McKinney locked it down once again, striking out Hazel Faz and getting Victoria Gutierrez to pop out near the circle to preserve the 2-1 win. McKinney struck out eight and allowed only one run to earn her 12th victory of the campaign.
Reece and Faz both singled and scored to put the Spires on the board in the first, and after Day singled in Moreno in the top of the third Delaney Hess tripled in Faz in the bottom half to reestablish a two-run lead. Avila wasted no time answering back. A Spire error put McGee on to start the fourth, and Sydney Gearhart smacked a triple, her first of the season, into the right field corner to cut the deficit to one.
Senevey and Saint Mary starter Shelby Mohler went toe-to-toe from there. Neither allowed a baserunner in the fifth or sixth, setting the stage for another last-inning Eagle rally. With two outs, Hayley Kerley hit a pinch-hit single, Meier followed with one of her own, and Mia Moreno followed that by smashing a liner to center, but Reece laid out and somehow collected it in her glove in center field, making an excellent catch to rob Moreno and preserve the 3-2 victory.
That was the final planned doubleheader of the regular season for Avila softball, but the Eagles will be back in action this Friday before the KCAC Tournament begins late next week. After the second half of their doubleheader against Bethany earlier this month was rained out, the Eagles and Swedes have rescheduled that contest for this Friday, April 30 at The Z. First pitch for that singleheader is slated for 3 PM; as always, live stats and video will be provided by the Avila Sports Network.