WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita State Softball team is in a winning groove after its second straight American Athletic Conference series sweep with a 10-7 win over Houston Sunday afternoon at Wilkins Stadium.
Wichita State (28-5, 11-1) extended its winning streak to nine in a row, a season-high. With the series sweep, the Shockers now sit alone in first place in the American standings through three weekends of play.
Bailey Lange got the ball to start in the circle, and threw 4.0 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. She walked two and struck out two in a no-decision. Caitlin Bingham (6-1) pitched 3.0 innings in relief and recorded the win. Bingham allowed four runs on four hits to go with a pair of strikeouts.
Bailee Nickerson kick-started the offense on Sunday with her grand slam. She finished the day 2-for-3 with a career-high-tying five RBI. Three other Shockers belted home runs on the day when the long ball proved to be the difference in the game.
Three walks in the bottom of the first set the stage for Nickerson to unload her first grand slam of the season to put the Shockers in front 4-0. The grand slam was the team’s third of the series and fifth of the season.
Houston came back with a run in the top of the second to cut it to 4-1. The Cougars pulled within a run after manufacturing a pair of runs on an infield single in the top of the fourth. They would then tie it in the top of the fifth.
In the home half of the fifth, Wichita State struck back with four runs – the first coming on an RBI single from Nickerson. The very next batter, Lauren Mills, laced a missile over the right-field fence to put the Shockers in front by three. Not to be outdone, Kaylee Huecker stepped in and drove a pitch over the center-field fence to complete back-to-back home runs and giving the Shockers an 8-4 lead.
The Cougars would not go away, however. A walk and infield single followed by a two-base throwing error cut the lead back to three. With two outs and a runner on, Houston’s Sarah Queen delivered a two-run home run, shrinking the lead to 8-7.
Addison Barnard crushed her 16th home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth to push the advantage back to two. Her 16 home runs are now tied for the most in a single season with Cacy Williams.
The Shockers would add their final run on Lauren Johnson scoring via a wild pitch.
Wichita State concludes its homestand with a midweek doubleheader vs. Kansas City on Tuesday, April 13.
(Wichita State Athletics contributed information to this article.)