The Ronnie Hawkins Invitational held some ups and downs for the Griffons as they left the season opening tournament with a 2-2 record.
On day one, Western faced the Harding University Bison, defeating them 7-5, and lost to the Ouachita Baptist University Tigers 5-6. Day two was similar to day one with the Griffons falling to the University of Arkansas at Monticello Weevils 6-9 but once again defeating Harding 4-1.
Head coach Jen Trotter believes that the offense performed well while the defense played slow.
“In a nutshell, I think the good is that we were scoring a lot of runs,” Trotter said. “I think the bad is that we still had to score more in order to win two more games and come home 4-0.”
In game one against the Bison, sophomore Shelbie Atwell started the Griffons’ season off with a second inning grand slam. Western scored again in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead. Neither team scored in the third and fourth innings but in the fifth inning Harding piled on five runs of their own to tie the game. In the sixth inning Atwell singled to left, bringing in junior Megan Korgie to take a 6-5 lead. Sophomore Paige Shifflett knocked a double to center, driving in junior Sydney Washington to lead to a 7-5 victory.
Both Ouachita and Western scored a run in the first inning of game two. Although both teams remained tied 1-1 through the second inning, the Tigers took a one run 2-1 lead in the third inning. The Griffons took a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning off of a junior Morgan Rathmann single to score junior Katie Klosterman, and sophomore Rebekah Mueller stole home. The teams continued to go back and fourth, never getting farther than a run in front of the other, but in the end Western would fall to Ouachita after the Tigers scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5.
During day two, game one, Western was on the wrong side of a grand slam against Arkansas-Monticello. After a home run from freshman Taylor Hamilton tied the game at four a piece, the Weevils nailed a fifth inning grand slam to take an 8-4 lead. Western added a couple more runs, but Arkansas-Monticello would not be stopped. They scored one more time before winning 9-6.
The Griffons faced a familiar opponent in the Bison for game four of the tournament. Both teams were scoreless until the fourth inning when Shifflett reached base on a fielder’s choice, allowing Rathmann to score, and Hamilton singled to left, scoring Washington, to give Western a 2-0 lead. Harding’s lone run came in the fifth inning after an error allowed a run. The Griffons would tack on two more runs in the seventh to win their final game of the invitational at 4-1.
Although many players had success over the weekend, Trotter was most impressed by Hamilton, who recorded at least one hit in each game and added one home run.
“We know that she has a lot of fire power, but the thing that was really cool to see is that her mentality at the plate is that of a senior right now,” Trotter said. “You like that from your young kids, to have that kind of savvy.”
The Griffons came home with a 2-2 record but the issues that they had during the tournament are not permanent, according to Trotter.
“The issues that we saw, I’m not thinking this is who we are,” Trotter said. “I’m thinking this is what we have to work on.”
Western is preparing for this weekend’s UAM 8-State Classic, where they will once again begin the tournament against Harding University on Friday Feb. 12 at 11:00 a.m.