Fans and spectators were spread out across the grassy hill next to 17th avenue; parents, siblings and pets gathered around Gloria Rodriguez Field on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado as the Bears co-hosted the Colorado Classic Softball Tournament over the weekend. UNC shared this duty with Colorado State University as the round-robin style tournament began Friday afternoon.
The Bears and Rams were joined by the softball teams from South Dakota State University and Oregon State University. The tournament held games at both Gloria Rodriguez Field in Greeley and Ram Field in Fort Collins. Games were played at UNC on Friday and Sunday afternoon, with teams traveling to CSU on Saturday.
The Bears began their weekend with a match-up against the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State Friday afternoon. Sophomore pitcher Erin Caviness earned the start for the Bears against first-year pitcher Tori Kniesche and head coach Krista Wood.
Caviness would be pulled out of the game early in the first inning after UNC surrendered five runs on six hits to the Jackrabbits. SDSU scored two more runs in the top of the fourth inning with base-hits from first-year infielders Tori Tollefson and Rozelyn Carrillo.
The Bears responded in the bottom of the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly from junior Paola Villegas, and a trio of base hits from junior Carson Fischer, senior Natalie Joyner and sophomore Lauren Strathearn. Both teams added three more runs in the final three innings, as the Bears were defeated by the final score of 14-8. UNC would take a half-hour break before their next game against Colorado State.
In their second game of the day, the Bears quickly jumped out to a one run lead after an RBI single from senior Emma Brockmann scored Strathearn from third base. UNC once again gave up five runs on seven hits early on, as the Rams batted around the lineup in the second inning.
Neither team scored again until the seventh inning, with the Rams still leading 5-2. CSU extended its lead with a two-run home run by infielder Maya Matsubara and held the Bears off in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win.
Caviness earned her second start of the weekend on Saturday in Fort Collins as the Bears played their first game against the OSU Beavers and head coach Laura Berg. After a fierce pitching duel in the first three innings, OSU broke the tie with a solo home run from sophomore Frankie Hammoude. The Beavers later pushed across four runs on five hits in the sixth inning, as the Bears comeback effort stalled in the seventh, giving UNC its third loss of the weekend.
With a return to their home field on Sunday, the Bears looked to salvage the weekend with games against Oregon State and South Dakota State. The first game of the day was lost early on as the Bears were held scoreless after giving up six runs in the first four innings.
The Beavers’ senior pitcher Nerissa Eason earned the start and gave up only two hits and struck-out the Bears eight times. The game was called in favor of Oregon State in the sixth inning, after UNC sophomore pitcher Reyna Caudillo gave up eight runs on nine hits.
A similar fate would await the Bears in their final game of the weekend against South Dakota State. With a total of eight runs scored in the first three innings, the Jackrabbits made quick work of the Bears. UNC scored its only run of the game on a double from senior Maddee Blood-Smyth in the bottom of the second inning. The run-rule would be called in the fifth inning after a two-run home run from Rozelyn Carrilo gave SDSU a 9-1 lead.
The Bears currently sit with a record of 2-12 after two weekends of losing softball. UNC will get another shot at the Rams next weekend, with a double-header scheduled for March 13 in Fort Collins.