Softball bounces back from rough week with two wins

| Sports Reporter

Just over a week ago, the Washington University softball team suffered two of its toughest losses of the season with a pair of sixth-inning collapses.

But the Bears turned it around Friday, opening the afternoon with a 6-4 win and coming right back with an 11-0 win in five innings later that night.

“It was definitely a step in the right direction,” junior Kelsey Neal said. “It was nice to bounce back after a rough weekend like last weekend, and I think we really found our bats again and started playing defense like we can.”

With two matchups scheduled for Saturday afternoon cancelled, the Bears ended the weekend with a record of 19-7 this season.

“We really just had to re-evaluate what we wanted to do with our season, and once we really focused on where we were going and the talent and potential that we actually had, I think everybody was able to get it back together and come out strong on Friday,” junior Maggie Mullen said.

After Greenville went ahead 2-1 with two runs in the fourth inning of the first game, Wash. U. powered its way back into the lead with a five-run frame. A pair of errors put Neal and Mullen on base, a sacrifice bunt put them both in scoring position and back-to-back singles by junior Stacy Berg and freshman Brooke Hofer knocked in three runs. With two outs, another error—this one on sophomore Adrienne White’s at-bat—brought in two more runs for the Bears, bringing the inning’s total to five.

“Coach has really stressed paying attention on the base paths after the play has been made because if there’s an error, we can always be aggressive and take that base,” Neal said. “And that’s something we did really well this weekend.”

A two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning cut the Bears’ lead in half, but Neal retired the side in order in the final two innings to secure the win. Neal pitched all seven innings, tallying a season-high nine strikeouts to go along with no walks in picking up her 10th win of the season.

“Towards the end of the game, we started hitting our stride. Stacy was calling a good game, and we were in sync, and I think we had more of a rhythm going in the latter innings,” Neal said.

The second game got out to a much quicker start for the Bears, who put up three runs in the first inning and four in each of the next two.

Senior Sondra Polonsky drew a bases-loaded walk to open the scoring, and Berg knocked in two more runs in the first inning. From there, a two-run homer from Mullen in the second and a grand slam by Neal in the third gave the Bears all the additional cushion they would need.

“That game was just all about keeping our energy going,” Mullen said. “I wasn’t really focusing on drawing a walk or hitting a home run—I just wanted to get up there and do what you can to make it happen for your team.”

With an 11-0 lead for Wash. U., the game was called after the fifth inning. Freshman Annie Pitkin pitched all five innings, allowing no runs and striking out four.

“As a team, everyone’s more relaxed, and I think you’re definitely having more fun [with a lead],” Neal said. “It’s enjoyable; it’s much less stressful.”

The team’s two games scheduled for Saturday afternoon against Millikin University were postponed due to inclement weather. Wash. U. will play two games on Wednesday at home against Missouri Baptist University.

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