Western wrapped up their last pre-conference tournament last weekend going 2-2 during the Teri-Mathis Zenner Memorial Tournament in Joplin, Mo.
Game one against the Drury University Panthers was all about the Griffons.
Western struck first in the first inning when designated hitter Taylor Hamilton drove in center fielder Morgan Rathmann off of a single. That run would be enough for the victory, but the Griffons piled on four more in the second inning and three more in the third before the game was called in the fifth inning, giving Western an 8-0 win.
The Griffons racked up nine hits including doubles from third baseman Katie Klostermann and right fielder Megan Korgie, along with a triple from Rathmann. Pitcher Janie Smith gained another win, only allowing three hits and picking up seven strikeouts.
Head coach Jen Trotter believes they played a solid game all around.
“Our offense was on fire, we were able to do all of the little things,” Trotter said.
The Rockhurst Hawks were next up for the Griffons in game two of the tournament, but after the dominant outing, Western fell short.
Once again the Griffons put the first run of the game on the board, but it didn’t come until the fourth inning when Klosterman singled, driving in pinch runner Shelby Uhl. The Hawks answered in the fifth inning when an error led to an unearned run. Rockhurst drove in four runs in the fourth inning thanks to a single and a three run homer. Western tried to battle back, but was only able to score once more from second baseman Paige Shifflett’s single. The Griffons fell to the Hawks in game two 5-2. Pitcher Shyanne Saladino got the loss, giving up five hits in five innings with five strikeouts.
Western was pitted again the University of Sioux Falls Cougars for game three.
The Griffons jumped on top, scoring one run in three straight innings to take a 3-0 lead going into the sixth inning. The Cougars exploded for five runs courtesy of a double and grand slam, taking a 5-3 lead. Klostermann crushed her second homerun of the game bringing Western to 5-4 but in the seventh Sioux Falls added two more runs and the Griffons couldn’t recover, dropping game three 7-4.
Western only managed four hits in the game, but two were Klostermann homers and one was a Hamilton double. Smith received the loss allowing eight hits with five strikeouts.
The Griffons got back into the win column against the Bearcats of McKendree University for the final game of the tournament.
Again, Western was on top early after scoring a run in the first, second and third innings, one of which came from another Klosterman homer. McKendree tied up the game at 3-3, forcing extras. It wasn’t until the ninth inning that Shifflett hit a walk-off double to take game four 4-3. Defeating the Bearcats also gave Trotter her 500th win of her career.
Saladino gained a win while whiffing 12 batters and Klostermann led the team at the plate, going 2-4.
Trotter believes that was the good way to end the tournament.
“It was a good match-up, it was a good game,” Trotter said. “We stayed really tough and were able to win that extra inning ball game.”
Although the Griffons are 10-6 on the season, there are some tweaks that need to be made, but the entire team is ready to work, according to Trotter.
“We’re all on the same page, we all know what’s going on, we just have to roll up our shirt sleeves and get at it this week,” Trotter said.
Next up for Western is the MIAA home-opening double header against the Northeastern State RiverHawks on Friday March, 4 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.