Softball splits pair with Chicago, rain washes away remainder of series
The St. Louis spring weather dictated a Saturday of inaction at the Washington University softball field, but the softball team was able to complete two games with the University of Chicago Friday at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., dropping the first game, 10-5, before senior starting pitcher Maggie Clapp shut out the Maroons.
The Friday contests themselves came after 12 days of rest for the Bears following last weekend’s Schutt Invitational cancellation. The Red and Green have now faced eight rainouts, more than their number of wins (six) or losses (six).
If Wash. U. was carrying any rust, they didn’t show it early in game one. After senior starting pitcher Anna McKee got a strikeout to escape from a first and second, two out jam in the top of the first inning, sophomore center fielder Amy Walsh was bunted over by senior designated player Ashley Madsen to give the Bears a runner in scoring position with one out.
Junior shortstop Taylor Arends put Wash. U. on the board right away with a run-scoring double, and senior third baseman Hera Tang followed two batters later with a RBI double of her own.
Arends got things going again in the third, tripling with two outs to give Clapp, playing at first base, an opportunity. Though Clapp struck out, the pitch got away from the catcher, allowing Clapp to reach base and Arends to come home with the Red and Green’s third run of the game.
Arends, with the pair of extra-base hits, continued her hot start to the season. She leads the Red and Green with a .387 batting average, .513 on-base percentage, .516 slugging percentage and 11 RBIs. Tang, who added a garbage-time double for her third hit of the game in the seventh, is tied for the team lead with four doubles.
McKee, who was cruising through four, unraveled in the fifth, allowing a pair of two-run singles—the second with two outs—to give the Maroons the lead. With the game still close, head coach Michelle Venturella decided to stick with her starter to begin the sixth, who promptly allowed a double, a walk and a single to end her afternoon.
Freshman relief pitcher Kendall Schwartz entered for the second time in her career to try to stop the bleeding, but couldn’t do so, leading to another big inning for Chicago. After a wild pitch and a walk to load the bases, Schwartz walked two runners home around a Walsh error. When it was all said and done, the Red and Green left the inning trailing, 10-3.
The rough outing was uncharacteristic of the four-year veteran McKee, whose seven runs allowed were a career-worst. McKee, who maintained an average of over a strikeout per inning over the first three years of her career, is at just 5.02 strikeouts per seven innings in 2018.
In the second contest of the afternoon, Clapp, ironically, delivered her best performance of the season, a five-inning shutout. Clapp, unlike McKee, does not feature a strikeout arsenal—she’s averaged just 3.63 per seven innings in her career—and returned to form amidst an otherwise shaky season for the Wash. U. ace. Clapp’s earned run average is 3.61, a full run-and-a-half above her career mark of 2.10.
There was no drama in this game thanks to the Bear offense, which cracked out nine runs over the first three frames. In the first, Arends, pitched around by the Maroons, walked, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Tang singled her home to get the Bears on the board.
The second turned into a three-run inning due to some Maroon miscues. With the help of two Chicago errors and an Arends RBI single, the Red and Green were able to stretch the lead to four.
Wash. U. really dropped the hammer in the third, when Arends, as usual, delivered the big blow, a two-run double. She scored as Clapp finished the scoring, helping her own cause with a run-scoring single to the left-center field gap.
The Bears—weather permitting—now tackle a long week at home, starting with two against Fontbonne University in the Wydown Showdown Tuesday, followed by a four-game set against Emory University over the weekend. The Bears will then spend the rest of April on the road.