No. 18 Bears goes 2-2 in Mizuno Invitational at home
Although it came away with two wins over a ranked opponent, the No. 18 Washington University softball team split four games in the Mizuno Invitational on Saturday and Sunday at home.
The invitational started on a high note on Saturday as head coach Leticia Pineda-Boutte nabbed her 300th career victory at Wash. U. with a 5-2 win against No. 14 Augustana College, but the Bears were upset in extra innings by Buena Vista University, 9-6, later in the day. On Sunday, the Red and Green defeated Augustana, 3-1, before falling to No. 6 Illinois Wesleyan University by a score of 6-5.
Facing its highest-ranked opponent of the season, the Bears saw a quality win slip through the cracks against Illinois Wesleyan. Although the Titans jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning against freshman pitcher Mackenzie Guaden, the Bears responded with three runs in the fourth inning and a two-run homer by freshman Anna McKee in the fifth to seize a 5-2 lead.
But the Titans quickly recovered and plated four runs on four hits against Guaden and junior pitcher Annie Pitkin in the sixth to regain a 6-5 lead. The Bears recorded just one hit in the final two innings as they fell short of earning a marquee win.
In their other loss of the weekend, the Bears struggled to break away from the Beavers as the teams were knotted 1-1 after seven innings. Hours after a stellar start against Augustana, Pitkin came in on relief for the Red and Green with less success. Each team scored four runs across the 10th and 11th innings, and the Bears’ offensive performance was highlighted by a three-run double from sophomore Janet Taylor with the team down by three.
But Buena Vista took the lead for good in the 12th inning by tacking on four runs with an outburst that included a three-run homer. The Bears answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning, but it wasn’t enough as the Beavers held on for the 9-6 upset win.
“It was a hard-fought game and we tried to catch up and jump ahead, but they beat us to it and we couldn’t score in the end,” Taylor said.
Pineda-Boutte believes the team demonstrated its resiliency in spite of the loss, but she hopes that the team can pull out such types of games in the future.
“It’s exciting to see them fight. They played with a lot of heart and hopefully that’ll be able to carry us to more victories in the future,” Pineda-Boutte said. “I think we were playing a little complacent, which is why we had to dig ourselves out of bad situations in those extra innings.”
The Bears picked up two convincing wins over Augustana, though, as the Red and Green capitalized on nine hits by scoring five runs to cruise to one of the victories against the Vikings on Saturday. On the mound, Pitkin struck out the first seven batters she faced and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Bears put together six hits, including a string of four consecutive hits, to finish the inning with five runs. The Vikings only managed to put up two runs against Pitkin as Wash. U earned its fourth victory over a ranked team.
On Sunday afternoon, the Red and Green took on Augustana in a rematch, and once again the Vikings had no answer at the plate versus Pitkin. In seven innings of work, Wash. U.’s ace struck out nine while conceding just three hits and an unearned run to carry the Bears to a 3-1 victory. The Bears plated one run in the first inning and two more in the second inning and Wash. U. maintained the lead throughout as Pitkin earned her 12th victory of the season.