Softball scores 11 back-to-back to sweep Greenville, get back on track
The Washington University softball team bounced back from last weekend’s four-game sweep at the hands of Emory University, completing a sweep of its own at Greenville University Thursday in Greenville, Ill. The Red and Green won a pair of nearly identical contests, 11-3 and 11-4, to extend their all-time stranglehold over the Panthers to 24-1.
In the opener, the Bears got off to a hot start, taking a 7-0 lead after three innings with some help from the Panthers. Two errors to go along with a walk and hit-by-pitch allowed Wash. U. to push across extra runs, including three unearned, for the touchdown lead through three.
Senior starting pitcher Anna McKee, meanwhile, was effective enough throughout, firing a complete game while striking out nine, walking two and allowing five hits. Head coach Michelle Venturella pushed her to 129 pitches even as she allowed four inconsequential runs late and allowed just the second home run of her career.
In the second game, sophomore center fielder Amy Walsh got things off and running with her speed early. After legging out a soft comebacker to the mound, Walsh wreaked havoc on the basepaths, stealing second base to force a throwing error by the Greenville catcher which allowed her to advance to third. She came home during the same at-bat on a groundout by junior shortstop Taylor Arends.
The Panthers got the run back right away, however, when the Bears got off to a rough start in the field themselves. Senior first baseman Mackenzie Gauden’s error on the first play allowed a Panther to reach base and come around on an RBI double, charged as an unearned run to senior starting pitcher Maggie Clapp.
The Red and Green didn’t ease up in their next chance. Two quick outs almost extinguished the frame before it started, but the Bears followed it up with three straight extra-base hits from the turn of the order, with Walsh following up a pair of doubles with an RBI triple.
While Greenville kept things close, adding another run-scoring double in the bottom of the third, the Bears broke through in the fifth for five runs with a string of four singles and a double.
Clapp’s home run issues continued in the sixth—she’s allowed a home run in her last three appearances after none up to that point—but it didn’t matter, as the Bears added three runs for good measure in the final frame. Walsh—who else—doubled home the 11th and final run with her fourth hit of the game. The seven-hit afternoon brought her batting average up to a scorching .365.
Clapp, meanwhile, was efficient, throwing just 81 pitches over six innings before freshman reliever Abby Graegin finished the game with a perfect inning, the first scoreless outing of her career.
As a team, Wash. U. controlled the strike zone in the two games, walking and striking out three times apiece. It was the first time the Bears had at least as many walks as strikeouts since March.
That control may have contributed to the 22-run output. The Red and Green doubled the number of games in which they’ve scored in double figures, with the other two coming against ranked opponents, No. 16 Ithaca College and No. 5 Trine University.
The short series was Wash. U.’s final respite from UAA play. The Bears wrap up the regular season with 12 consecutive conference games, beginning with four each at Case Western Reserve University and Brandeis University through the end of April and culminating with four against New York University in early May.