WICHITA, Kan. (Wichita State Athletics) With Lauren Mills hitting her first home run since Feb. 9 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Wichita State softball team claimed its fifth extra inning game of the season with a 4-3 win over USF on Friday night at Wilkins Stadium.
Sydney McKinney tied a career high with three hits in three at-bats and Caitlin Bingham collected two strikeouts in five innings pitched. Erin McDonald came up with her 13th win of the season, shutting out USF in the last three innings.
USF started the top of the first with a leadoff walk and managed to get two runners in scoring position following a single and stolen base. The Bulls capitalized on the early opportunity, coming up with a single to left field to gain a 2-0 lead. After USF came up with its third consecutive single of the inning, Bingham recorded two strikeouts to end the first half-inning with just limited damage.
McKinney started the comeback in the bottom of the first with a leadoff single, with Madison Perrigan hitting her 10th home run of the season to tie the game at two runs a piece. Forcing USF into a 1-2-3 inning, the Shockers went three up, three down to end the second inning still tied.
With a walk and stolen base putting a USF runner in scoring position, a throwing error by the Shockers and a wild pitch allowed the Bulls to retake the lead in the top of the third. The Shockers, however, responded in the next half-inning thanks to a left field double by Laurie Derrico to score Perrigan from first base.
The Shockers looked to snag the lead in the bottom of the fourth, with Neleigh Herring and Lauren Mills leading off with back-to-back singles and moving into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt from Wylie Glover. With McKinney drawing a walk in the next at-bat to load the bases, USF forced a strikeout and a groundout to the pitcher that prevented the Shockers from taking the lead.
A walk and stolen base gave the Bulls another chance to capitalize with a runner in scoring position with two outs, but Bingham forced a groundout to herself to prevent any damage. USF looked for the go ahead run after putting a runner on second base with a sacrifice bunt in the top of the sixth. The Bulls collected a two-out single to left field, but Bailee Nickerson's throw to home allowed Perrigan to tag the runner and keep the game tied 3-3.
McKinney collected her third hit of the game in the bottom of the seventh to put the winning run on first base, with the Shockers loading the bases with two outs following a walk and a hit by pitch. Georgina Corrick collected her third strikeout of the game to leave the Shocker runners stranded and force extra innings.
AnaMarie Bruni came up with a one-out single up the middle to put the potential winning run on first base, but the Shockers took care of business to get the two outs to keep the game tied. With one out and no runners on, Mills took matters into her own hands by hitting her second home run of the season to give the Shockers the walk-off win.
Wichita State (30-23, 11-8) continues the series with USF on Saturday, with first pitch starting at 3 p.m. at Wilkins Stadium.