Softball downs No. 10 Coe in latest test of surging offense
When the Washington University softball team surged through its spring break schedule, the team did so riding a hot-handed offense. The question then became whether the Bears hitters could do the same against top caliber pitching.
Well, wonder no longer. Up against No. 10 Coe College and its 0.88 team ERA, Wash. U. piled on 10 hits in a 5-4 home victory over the Kohawks Friday evening.
Against Coe’s ace, five different Bears had multi-hit games, including seniors Hannah Mehrle and Janet Taylor who combined to drive in all five of Wash. U.’s runs.
The Red and Green’s offense continued to set the tone through the weekend, delivering wins against Wartburg College and Webster University Sunday. Against Wartburg, Wash. U. piled on 12 hits in a 7-0 victory. Later in the day versus Webster, the Bears took advantage of seven Webster errors to score eight unearned runs and win 11-1.
With the trio of victories, the Red and Green improve to 11-4 overall and 9-1 in their past 10 games. Add in the fact that their pitching staff has allowed three or fewer earned runs in all but one game this season, and the Bears are firing on all cylinders as they head into conference play next weekend.
But back to their signature win this past Friday. Entering the weekend, Coe sported the fifth-best team-ERA in Division III and two shutdown starters. Up against one of them and with junior Anna McKee on the hill for the Bears, Wash. U. quickly found itself in an early 2-0 hole.
Coe led off the game with a bunt single, steal and walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. After McKee responded with back-to-back strikeouts, a walk loaded the bases and a single to right field scored a pair.
The Bears cut the deficit in the bottom half of the inning with a little bit of small ball. After senior Kenzie James reached first on a bunt single. Sophomore Taylor Arends advanced her to second on a sacrifice bunt. Mehrle, the next batter, singled up the middle, scoring James from second. The Bears had a chance to strike for even more in the inning but were unable to convert after loading the bases with two outs.
After the Kohawks went down in order in the top of the second, the Bears jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the bottom half of the frame. With runners on first and third and two outs, Mehrle came through again, this time driving in junior Ashley Madsen with a single to left center. Taylor followed up with a two-run, double-scoring Mehrle and Arends.
It didn’t take long for Coe to tie it up. In the top of the third with women on first and second and no outs, the Kohawks punched a single into right field. A throwing error from James in right field allowed the trailing runner to score all the way from first and tie the score at four-all.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Bears found a little extra two-out magic. With Madsen on third and Mehrle on first, Taylor came through again with her second double of the day, driving in Madsen and putting the Bears up for good.
Meanwhile, McKee found her groove in the middle innings, at one point retiring nine batters in a row. The junior allowed just one base runner after the third, giving the Bears a chance to settle in for the one-run victory.
Two days later, McKee returned to the mound against Wartburg. And while the Bears offense continued to put teams away, she provided some firepower of her own, striking out a career-high 14 batters in 7 innings.
Against the Knights, the Bears put the hammer down early. After McKee struck out the side in the bottom of the first, the Red and Green piled on five runs on five hits in the bottom half of the frame. The biggest blow came from junior Hera Tang who doubled to left center, scoring Taylor and freshman Mikaela Arredondo. McKee did not allow a runner past second base and surrendered just five singles in her start.
If the Bears let out of the gate against Wartburg, they may as well have knocked the gate off its hinges against Webster. Taking advantage of a less-than-slick fielding Gorlocks team, Wash. U. scored eight runs in the first inning on five hits and four errors. With a sizable lead before she even took the mound, junior Maggie Clapp pitched five solid innings of one run ball, allowing four hits. The win was the 20th of her career.
Next weekend, the Bears travel to No. 23 Emory University for their first taste of UAA play. Last year, the Eagles advanced all the way to the Division III national championships, but in 2017, they’ve tallied a more pedestrian 17-9 record. Most recently, Emory split four games with Case Western Reserve University this weekend.