Missouri Western coach Jen Bagley has said her team needed to be strong in the circle in order to win ball games this season.
In this past weekend’s Henderson State Tournament, that proved to be true.
Western pulled out four wins in six games — the same result as its first weekend tournament last season — and head to Durant, Okla., this weekend for another six-game tournament.
“Offensively, we had a disappointing weekend. We fell a little bit victim of seeing things in the fieldhouse, when you’re practicing inside and looking for the pitch that you’re seeing,” Bagley said. “The upside of the weekend was Jackie Bishop had a really great start. With her on the mound, we have a really good chance right now. That Arkansas-Monticello game was really fun to watch.”
To open up the season, Western needed extra innings to take down Henderson State. The Griffons received help from the international tie breaker, which starts a runner on the second base in extra innings.
Tied 0-0, Western scored two runs in the eighth inning (Michelle Stevenson and Kim Robinson) and took a 2-0 advantage. Henderson could only score one, which gave the Griffons the win.
During a week in which Bagley said Bishop showed her sophomore maturity, the 2011 MIAA Freshman of the Year threw a shutout through seven innings in the opening game.
Western wasn’t so lucky in the second game of the three-day tourney, as Ouachita Baptist defeated the Griffons 6-0 behind eight hits in Annalee Rubio’s first start as a Griffon.
They returned to action Saturday afternoon and defeated Delta State 5-2 behind Keri Lorbert’s 3-run homer in the bottom of the third inning. The game gave Bishop her second win of the season. Bagley still believes her team can do more offensively, but that will come with more time in practice and experience during games.
“It really kind of hurt my heart not to put Brittany Douglas and Toni Dance out on the lineup card this last weekend,” said Bagley, referring to the two home run sluggers that led the team in 2011 with 15 and 13 homers, respectively. “There’s a little bit of confidence that happens when you get some girls that start getting hot. That stuff gets contagious.”
Western won the fourth game of the tournament, 2-1 over Rockhurst. On the final day, it saw the highs and lows of the tournament.
In a matchup with another top-25 team, No. 23 Western faced off with No. 12 Arkansas-Monticello. With Bishop on the mound, the Griffons only gave up three hits and no runs.
Monticello’s Kayla Jackson pitched five solid innings, but in the bottom of the second, Taylor Anding blasted a round tripper over the fence to provide the lone score of the game as Western topped Monticello 1-0 to improve to a 4-1 record. Bishop concluded the tournament at 3-0.
The Griffons played Henderson for the second time during weekend, which ended the 3-day tourney, and for the second time the two squads played extra innings.
Western scored first, landing a run in the bottom of the fourth. Henderson topped that with two runs in sixth inning, taking a 2-1 lead. The Griffons tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, as Maegan Roemmich doubled with one out, sending Kendall Sorensen home to tie the game. Western left two batters stranded, however, and the game went to the seventh tied 2-2 and eventually to the eighth inning with the same score.
The international tie breaker wasn’t as favorable to the Griffons the second time out, as Henderson used the rule to score four runs. Rubio, who started the game, gave up the first run on a single to Amber Wilburn, who advanced to second when runner Amber Klug beat the throw home. Emily Moe, who won her lone start of the tournament, relieved Rubio, but the Reddies secured three more runs to take a 6-2 lead, ending much hope for the Griffons.
“[Rubio] pitched well enough to win that ball game,” Bagley said. “Offensively we just weren’t able to get the win for her.”
Western looks to take six more wins this weekend and improve on the young season when it heads to Durant to play in the Southeastern Oklahoma State Tournament. The Griffons have tough competition, playing top-25 Angelo State as well as a rematch with Monticello. They then play a third-straight weekend tournament, heading back to Bentonville, Arkansas in the Arkansas-Monticello Five State Classic.
Western returns home March 6 against Quincy to in its opener at Spring Sports Complex.