GOLDEN, Colo. – Dani Fonseca hit her fifth home run of the season with two outs in the top of the eighth inning to put the University of Colorado Colorado Springs ahead of Colorado Christian and the Mountain Lions retired the Cougars in the bottom of the eighth in order as UCCS (25-18-1) advanced in the 2013 RMAC Softball Tournament with a 4-3 win against the Cougars (25-22) at the Colorado School of Mines Softball Field.
Jourdan Hitchings led off the game with a single, and then advanced to second on a groundout by Jessica Belsterling. A well-placed single in right center field by Emily Jennings drove Hitchings home as UCCS took a 1-0 lead after the top of the first inning.
The Cougars loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning with only one out before a fly out to left field kept the runner at third for the second out. A grounder by Jennifer Irving made it past the pitcher Becca Smith, but T.J. Flodman made the play for an unassisted out at second base to keep Colorado Christian scoreless.
The Mountain Lions maintained the 1-0 lead into the third inning, but three straight two-out singles put the Cougars ahead 2-1 after three complete innings. UCCS answered in the top of the fourth inning with a triple from Allie Corids with two outs on the board. Flodman singled to center field with a hit to center field to drive in Corids and tie the game at 2-2.
Landry Davis led off the top of the fifth inning by drawing a walk on a full count, and advanced to second off a sacrifice bunt from Hitchings. Lara Mathewson followed with a single to drive in Davis and put UCCS back ahead 3-2 after the top of the fifth inning. Mathewson improved her career hit total to 212 hits and moved within three hits of the No. 4 spot in the program record books.
The Mountain Lions kept the 3-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, but faced the top of the Cougar batting order. A fly out by leadoff batter Hannah Rapoport provided the first out, but Melanie Lusi tripled to put the tying run on third. A single on the next play by Alyssa Zimmerman tied the game at 3-3, and Zimmerman advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt for the second out. A long hit into left field brought Zimmerman around third, but a well-executed throw from Emily Jennings in left field to catch Erin Milburn provided an out at the plate to move the game into extra innings.
Belsterling and Jennings both flied out for two quick outs, but Fonseca hit her fifth home run of the season over the fence in left center field to put UCCS back ahead at 4-3. Corids reached based on a single before Marissa Wallace flied out to left field.
Smith needed 10 pitches in the bottom of the eighth inning to retire the Cougars on a groundout, pop out and fly out to end the game and collect her 16th win of the season.
UCCS won its 25th game for the first 25-win season since 2007 and the win came in the first conference tournament win since 2006. The Mountain Lions will face the winner of the No. 2 Colorado Mesa and No. 7 Fort Lewis game at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning at Lakewood Park.