Softball starts season with sweep

| Senior Sports Editor

Giving up five runs in one inning might spell doom for many teams.

But the Washington University softball team kept their composure and blasted open the eighth inning with five runs to defeat host Rhodes College 12-9 in Saturday’s nightcap at the Chick-fil-A Classic in Memphis, Tenn.

“We came out and hit instead of facilitating a run,” senior co-captain Ashton Hitchcock said, as the international tiebreaker rule placed a runner on second. “Once we started to score, we kept going and kept rolling with the momentum,” she said. The Bears won both games of their season-opening doubleheader capitalizing on hitting and aggressive running. “There were some times we were getting runs out of nothing because of our base running,” head coach Leticia Pineda-Boutté said.

Freshman Kathy Peter entered in the sixth inning for sophomore Olivia Cook to close out the game and gave up one hit in her first inning of collegiate play. The situation seemed well at hand in the bottom of the seventh as the Bears held a 7-2 advantage, but that’s when the Lynx pounced and scored five runs to send the game to extra innings.

“I felt bad because we had put in our freshman pitcher,” Hitchcock said. “It was just a combination of one of her first college experiences and nerves. No one really got down on her or the team. I was confident we were going to come back and win.”

The Bears posted an insurmountable lead in the extra inning, capitalizing on three errors by Rhodes. Cook returned to close out the game.

Throughout the weekend, Hitchcock proved to be a potent offensive force hitting four for eight and five RBIs. Hitchcock combined with sophomores Corissa Santos and Alyssa Abramoski for seven hits and seven RBIs against the Lynx as the 2-3-4 hitters anchored the offense.

“Their timing is impeccable right now,” Pineda-Boutté said. “They definitely have a good feeling at the plate.”

Wash. U. vanquished Hendrix College 7-4 earlier in the day. Junior Claire Voris picked up her 400th career strikeout while giving up seven hits in six innings of work.

This was the softball team’s first exposure to dirt this season as frigid temperatures have prevented outdoor practices in St. Louis.

The tournament also served as an opportunity for team bonding as several new players join the team. “We’re really lucky to have them,” Voris said. “We’ve got a really good group of girls. I can’t say enough about them.”

The Red and Green jet off to Florida for the NTC Games and face John Carroll University at 9:30 a.m. (E.T.) on March 6. After the NTC Games, the Bears look to defend their UAA championship title. According to Hitchcock, one of the team’s goals is to go undefeated during conference play. “Winning each individual game…that way we’re taking it one step at a time,” Hitchcock said.

Wash. U. is scheduled to play 12 games from March 6-13. “It’s the little things we have to work on,” Voris said. “We have a promising future ahead of us.”