Softball finishes week with three wins
The Bears recovered from a tough start to the week with a two-game sweep of Monmouth College Saturday in Monmouth, Ill.
Wash. U. had dropped two games on Monday to Division II Union University. After rallying for a 4-3 home win over Fontbonne University Friday, the Bears slipped up, 12-5, against their next-door neighbors, who improved to 28-11. Fontbonne’s six-run fourth inning against junior starting pitcher Kelsey Neal and freshman reliever Brooke Hofer proved the difference.
The Red and Green had won five straight before dropping three of four the past week, but the team got its momentum back with 3-1 and 10-0 (5 innings) wins over Monmouth.
“Everyone is playing really well right now, and I think Coach [Leticia Pineda-Boutte] said it best: everything is contagious, whether it’s errors or hits or great plays, and I think that we just strung a lot of hits together and made a lot of great plays in the field,” Neal said.
In the first Monmouth game, Neal picked up her 13th win with a complete-game performance. Monmouth went ahead in the first inning, but three runs in the second inning were all the Bears needed to turn the tide. Sophomore Adrienne White went 3-for-3 with a run scored, and senior Ashley Janssen and sophomore Page Biles chipped in two hits and one RBI apiece from the top two spots in the batting order.
The next game started slowly—with only one run scored through the first three innings—before the Bears exploded for seven runs on five singles and a two-run double by Neal in the fourth.
White’s 2-2 game with a walk raised her batting average to .386 and on-base percentage to .432, both good for third on the team. Janssen (.455 batting average, .523 OBP) and junior Maggie Mullen (.388, .479) lead those categories for the Bears.
Freshman pitcher Annie Pitkin improved to 12-4 on the mound with five strikeouts, no walks and two hits allowed in four shutout innings. She raised her team-leading strikeout count to 111 on the season.
“I’m the only returning pitcher, and we have three freshmen, and sometimes it can be a big jump to college, but they’ve all been filling roles really well,” Neal said. “Annie [Pitkin] has been a great starter for us…and [Hofer and freshman Amanda Kalupa] have also been doing really well when they’re put into situations, and everyone is really behind them.”
Sunday’s cancelled games were only the latest of many called off for weather reasons, leaving the Bears with only four contests remaining on their regular season schedule. They have doubleheaders Wednesday at home versus Millikin University and then Saturday at Lindenwood University-Belleville.
“It’s unfortunate because we always want to play, and it helps us stay sharp,” Neal said. “And today we were all really looking forward to playing, but at the same time, softball is an outside game. That’s part of why we play and part of why we love it, and we just have to go with the flow.”
The Bears are currently ranked No. 7 in the Midwest Region.
“This was a really big weekend for us just in terms of positioning ourselves for the regional tournament,” White said.
Earlier this week, five Bears were named to the All-University Athletic Association team—Mullen and Neal made the first team while junior Stacy Berg, Janssen and senior Sondra Polonsky earned second-team nods.