Griffons sweep weekend series

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The Griffons wrapped up their last two road series of the season, sweeping both Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State, to increase their record to 32-14 overall.

Western found themselves in close games all weekend, winning three games by one run and one game by two runs.

A streak of close games proved the team’s resilience to adversity according to head coach Jen Bagley-Trotter.

“It was great to see that our pitching and defense was able to hold teams off so that we could squeak out a run and get a win,” Bagley-Trotter said. “I think it was good for us to be able to play in some tight ball games and come out ahead. It was a good show of character for our team bouncing back from Tuesday.”

In game one against Southern, the Lions jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning, but the Griffons would claw back after scoring two runs in the fourth inning. In the top of the fifth inning, Western would take a 4-3 lead after scoring two more runs, but Southern soon tied the game in the bottom of the inning. The Griffons would take the lead in the seventh inning after a wild pitch scored second baseman Tiffany Gillaspy. The Lions could not recover in the bottom of the inning, which lead to a 5-4 victory for Western.

Game two turned into a defensive showdown that left both teams scoreless going into the seventh inning. In the top of the seventh Gillaspy flied out to left field, scoring left fielder Brooke Schaben to take a late 1-0 lead. The Griffons prevented the Lions from coming back in the bottom of the seventh and gained another close win by a score of 1-0.

Dealing with 1-0 ballgames is a new kind of pressure that Western has not had to worry about too often this year, explains Bagley-Trotter.

“I don’t know the last time we’ve been in a 1-0 ball game and that feeling is definitely a lot more pressure than when you’re in a slugfest,” Bagley-Trotter said. “In the end you’re still dealing with the difference of a run or two, but just that 1-0 ball game, there’s just a different vibe for that.”

After sweeping Southern, the Griffons headed to Pitt State for their last series of the weekend.

Game one again was another defensive battle but, instead of the winning run coming in the seventh inning, Western scored the eventual winning run in the first inning off of a solo homer by Gillaspy. The Griffons held strong for the rest of the game and won their second 1-0 game in a row.

The second game of the series was the complete opposite of the previous two games. The Griffons and Gorillas each knocked three home runs, which were spread out between five of the seven innings. In the end, Western won the slugfest 7-5 to complete the weekend sweep.

The Griffons move into their two-week break with a 32-14 overall record, ranked third in the MIAA with a 16-6 record and are currently sitting at No. 24 nationally.

Bagley-Trotter believes the two-week break between games is exactly what the team needs right now.

“Early on I was worried about this break coming up,” Bagley-Trotter said. “As it turns out, with the injuries and when I look at them [the players] and see that they are worn down, I think the fact that we have a couple days here where we can get away from it and let them relax will be a good thing for us.”

Western faces Washburn University and Emporia State for their last home series of the year. Although those games are right before the MIAA Tournament, Bagley-Trotter says the team will be focused on one game at a time.

“The last weekend, especially with where everybody is standing in the conference right now, we have to be looking at these last two series as we need to win the game we’re in all weekend long.” Bagley-Trotter said. “More than the big picture of the conference tournament or regionals or anything like that, we have to put ourselves there by being able to go and play good softball for those four games.”

The Griffons begin their last home stretch against the Washburn University Ichabods on Friday, April 24, and end the regular season against the Emporia State University Hornets on Saturday, April 25.

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