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Cougars remain in second after split in crossover tourney

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The University of Minnesota, Morris softball team earned a split Tuesday in the first two games of the UMAC Crossover Tournament. Morris opened the day with a 5-0 win over Martin Luther, but closed it with a 10-2 loss to Bethany Lutheran.

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The Cougars' win over the Knights avenged a sweep at their hands earlier this season, while their loss to the Vikings came against a team they've swept already.

UM-Morris 5

Martin Luther 0

In earning the win over Martin Luther, Morris scored single runs in each the first, second and fourth, while Cougar starter Mariah Essig allowed just a lone hit over the same stretch to let UMM get out to their 3-0 lead. The Knights tabbed one hit in the bottom of the first, before Essig worked three straight perfect innings, sending down 11 consecutive batters at one point.

Molly Olson, Shelby Peterson, and Kelsey Draper all drove in runs in the first four innings, including a fourth inning homerun from Draper to give her three round-trippers this season.

As the Cougars added two more runs for good measure in the sixth, it was again Draper with the RBI, this time sending a double to center to score Olson. Before the inning ended, Heather Brown brought her around with her RBI single.

Essig allowed just three hits all game to earn her ninth win of the season, with eight wins coming in the last nine decisions. She struck out four and walked none, throwing a full seven innings for the sixth time this season.

Bethany 10

UM-Morris 2

In game two, the Cougars got into a 3-0 hole after the first half-inning and never recovered. By the third inning, the deficit was 5-1, and with just four hits in the game, a Cougar comeback was hard to come by.

The Vikings did their early damage on a three-hits first, while a two-run homerun was the only hit in the third.

Among the Cougars' four hits was one from Molly Olson - who finished the day 4-for-6 - to extend her hitting streak to 21 games, further extending her school record.

The Cougars got one run back in the fifth to cut the lead to three, but the Vikings answered with five in the sixth to put the game away.

Joining Olson among the batting leaders was Laura Lhotka, who finished the day with three hits.

Despite the split, the Cougars remain second in the latest UMAC Softball standings, having already locked up a berth in the conference tournament May 4 and 5. With four games the rest of the week, against the northern teams in the conference, they have a chance to lock up the two seed for the second straight year.

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