The Griffon softball team traveled north last weekend to St. Cloud,Minnesota. The Griffs played a five-game set and ended up going 2-3. All the games were played at St. Cloud State University’s campus in the Husky Dome, so the frigid Minnesota temperatures were avoided at game time. Missouri Western headed up to St. Cloud for the Kelly Laas Memorial Invite, a crossover tournament between the NSIC and MIAA. The tournament is in honor of the former St. Cloud Husky player Kelly Laas who passed away from cancer in 2011.
Game one took place last Thursday at 8 a.m., but the early start and long drive didn’t slow the Griffons down as they shut out Concordia-St. Paul 3-0. To get the Griffon scoring started, Katie Klosterman singled to drive in Sydney Washington in the fourth inning. The Griffs would add their last two runs of the game in the sixth inning as Klosterman walked with the bases loaded to score Washington again. Then later in the inning, Page Shifflett scored on a wild pitch. One of the biggest stories of the game is the complete game shutout by the Griffons’ Janie Smith. She limited the Golden Bears to five hits and picked up her third win of the season. Smith gave the credit to her team after the games.
“The attribute to my success on the mound for both of those games was my team. They were complete team wins,” Smith said. “The defense was excellent in backing me up. They helped me get out of a few pressure situations that were crucial. The offense did a great job as well of backing me up by not only putting some runs up but responding back when we were behind.”
Kappes of the Golden Bears got the loss.
Game two took place on Thursday at 2 p.m. The Griffons lost a tight one to the Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks – a school that has been a pest to almost all Griffon sports in the last five years. The Mavericks started the scoring in the third with a single, then double that plated two for them. The Griffs would score in the fourth on a triple by Kailey Green that scored Klosterman to make it a one-run ballgame. Shyanne Saladino pitched well in the game, giving up only two runs on six hits in seven innings, but the Griffon bats couldn’t find an extra run for her.
Saladino ended up with the tough-luck loss and Coley of the Mavericks got the win. Coach Jen Bagley-Trotter pointed out that the odd playing field of the Husky Dome may have caused some adversity for the Griffons.
“Against Mankato, Sydney Washington would have had a three-run homerun if not for the hitting the roof of the dome on the way out,” Bagley-Trotter said.
In game three, Griffon softball faced an old foe in Augustana College – a team that the Griffons know all too well from the playoffs. The game was a rough spot for the two teams, as it didn’t start until around midnight. Augustana got out first with a two run homerun in the third inning. The Griffons struck back with a Shelbie Atwell double that drove in Green, Klosterman and Shifflett, putting the Griffons up 4-2. Augusta tied it up at 4-4 with a double and a sac fly in the sixth. In the final inning, Shifflett hit an RBI single to score Riley Wilson to take a one-run lead. The Griffs put on some extra when Taylor Schaben scored on an error by Augustana’s first basemen. Smith got the start again going five innings, giving up five hits and four runs; she picked up the win in the rivalry game.
“It was a great feeling beating them. It’s always great defeating a rivalry team,” Smith said.
Saladino cleaned up the last two innings giving up only two hits. Pickett of Augustana was saddled with the loss. Coach Bagley-Trotter said the Augustana game was “a great team win.”
Game four was another tightly fought game for Western softball, as the Griffs fell by only one run to Wayne State College. Wayne State picked up a run in the first with a sac fly, putting them up 1-0 in the first. They scored again in the fifth on a fielder’s choice, making it a 2-0 Wayne State lead. The Griffons came charging back in the top of the sixth to tie it up with a single by Atwell to score Washington and a single by Green to score Atwell. Tied up at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Western gave up a run to go down 3-2; the Griffs couldn’t tie it back up in the seventh to force extra innings. Smith was on the mound again for Western. She gave the Griffons six solid innings, with only six hits and three runs, but ended up with the loss. Miller of Wayne State won with a complete game.
The final game of the five-game set was against the team holding the tournament: St. Cloud State University. Chalk it up to St. Cloud getting to sleep in their own beds and the Griffons worn out from the road, but the Griffons fell 2-10 in five innings. The Huskies scored eight runs in the first three innings, putting Western in quite the hole. Green did homer in the fourth for the Griffs to make it an 8-2 game. St. Cloud got it back the next inning, though, making it 10-2 and ending the game. The Griffons trotted out three pitchers in the game. Saladino, who pitched 2.1 innings, was stuck with the loss.
The Griffon softball team returns to MIAA action in their next series on March 6 against North East Oklahoma State.