DENVER – Darkness was the ultimate winner Saturday as the Colorado School of Mines and UC-Colorado Springs played to a 5-5 tie in RMAC Preseason softball action at Metro State's Auraria Field in Denver.
Mines (3-0-1) pulled back ahead 7-5 in the top of the 6th inning; however the game was called in the middle of the inning due to the lack of light. Both coaches confirmed that the game would end in a 5-5 draw.
For the third time this season the Orediggers grabbed the initial lead with runs in their first at-bat as senior centerfielder Kamee Vessey lifted a one-out, two RBI home run to left field, scoring junior second baseman Courtney Derus.
Vessey, a Preseason All-RMAC honoree and co-owner of the Mines single-season home run record with 15 in 2012, has two long balls in four games this season.
Following a UCCS solo homer in the second, senior shortstop Molly Thiebaut put the Orediggers back up two with a run-scoring triple to center that plated Vessey who reached with a one-out, four-pitch walk.
CSM went ahead 5-1 with two more runs in the top of the fourth. The first three batters reached base as junior first baseman Melissa Marshall led off with a single to right; sophomore designated player Cassie Ford doubled to left and freshman catcher Elise Dugwyler drew a five-pitch walk. Following a fielder's choice, Derus scored Ford with a fielder's choice of her own and Vessey lifted a sacrifice fly to right, allowing Dugwyler to scamper home.
The Mountain Lions (3-0-1) answered with three runs on two hits and an Oredigger error in the bottom of the inning and added the equalizer with two hits and one out in the fifth.
Despite just one official at-bat, Vessey matched her season-high with three RBI, while scoring twice and walking once.
With her second straight multi-hit output, Thiebaut has hit safely in all four games this year, going 2-for-2 the one RBI and a walk.
Derus, sophomore third baseman Paige Coufal and Marshall all collected one hit in three plate appearances.
Senior RMAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year Kelly Unkrich became the program's all-time strikeout leader, moving ahead of Carrie Wittkopf (1999-02) with 430 for her career. Three strikeouts away entering the game, Unkrich needed only six batters to overtake the lead and finished the afternoon with a season-high seven whiffs, while allowing just two earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks
Mines returns to Las Vegas for the second year in a row next weekend for the three-day, five-game Desert Stinger Tournament Feb. 8 through Feb. 10.
Hosted by Montana State-Billings, the Desert Stinger remains the largest NCAA Division II softball tournament hosted by one school in the country.
The Orediggers open with California Baptist at 12:30 p.m. and the host Yellowjackets, last season's GNAC Tournament Champions, at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, before facing NFCA Division II Preseason No. 11 Cal. State Dominguez Hills, a Super Regional finalist in 2012, and West Texas A&M on Saturday, and closing the tournament Sunday with Simon Fraser.