By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
If early success is any indication, the UNO softball team will enjoy playing at the new Westside Field at Westbrook. A week after sweeping UNK, the Mavs split a series with South Dakota then beat Peru State to improve to 4-1 at home and 17-13 overall.
In five home games the UNO offense has produced 27 runs, blasted seven home runs and hit for a .293 average. Catcher Amber Lutmer has been the major force behind those numbers.
The sophomore, Millard West graduate had five hits, all home runs, and 14 RBIs during the home stand. Dana Elsasser was equally as dominant on the mound.
The Mavs’ ace picked up three runs, allowed no earned runs and walked just two while striking out 16. In 20 innings pitched, Elsasser gave up just 6 hits.
UNO’s first-ever game at Westside Field produced eight runs. They did themselves three better a week later, and put up an 11 spot on South Dakota.
Though the Mavs have a season before facing South Dakota in Summit League play, they looked more than ready to compete now. In game one, Lutmer blasted two grand slams and the game was called in the fifth inning.
UNO started the contest by sending six hitters to the plate in the first, but the Mavs left three on base and failed to score. That wouldn’t be the case in the second when UNO broke it open.
Senior Lauren Larson started it with a two-run single scoring Molly Negrete and Mara Eeman with the bases loaded. Senior outfielder Katelyn Hinton was hit by a pitch, reloading the bases for the hot-swinging Lutmer.
Lutmer made the Coyotes pay, hitting her sixth home run of the season over the leftfield wall to make it 6-0. After the Mavs scored one on a hit and two errors in the third, Lutmer again came to the plate with the bases loaded.
Lutmer homered to the same spot as in the second inning and made it 11-0. South Dakota couldn’t get on the board, and the game was called on the mercy rule after the top of the fifth.
Elsasser got her ninth win of the year, allowing just two hits, one walk and striking out seven. Although 11 runs was UNO’s second-highest total of the year, none of that offensive production carried over into game two.
South Dakota pitcher Erica Denney limited the Mavs to just four hits, and her offense got her two late runs in the sixth and the seventh for a 2-0 Coyote victory. UNO had their best chance in the second after Negrete reached based on an error to start the inning.
Emma Wright moved Negrete to second on a sacrifice bunt, then Eeman was hit by a pitch. Ashley Lynch followed Eeman with a pop out to second base but then Tonya Peterson walked to load the bases.
The threat came to an end when Lindsay Redding grounded into a fielder’s choice. The Mavs got just two hits the rest of the way.
Kat Barrow (5-5) was the hard luck loser after giving up only five hits, one earned run and two walks. Peterson, Redding, Larson and Negrete had hits for UNO.
Friday Elsasser was back in the circle and once again she propelled the Mavs to victory, 1-0 over Peru State. Elsasser allowed just two hits, walking none and striking out three en route to picking up her 10th win of the year.
Peru State leadoff hitter Toni Moffatt singled to start the game, and singled in her third at-bat in the seventh, but in between no other Bobcats reached base. UNO got their only run of the game, the game-winner in the second.
With one out, Negrete reached base on an error, and advanced to second on the play when the Peru State third baseman made a throwing error. Wright singled to center to score Negrete, but Eeman struck out and Lynch popped up to end the inning.
The UNO bats were limited the rest of the way by Bobcat starter Devon Massengale. Massengale only allowed four hits, two of them bunt singles.
The lone run scored came unearned because Peru State dropped a foul ball off of the bat of Wright just before Wright got the single to center that scored Negrete.