To wrap up spring break the Griffons took five of six games during the Apple Market Softball Classic last weekend.
Before the tournament even started head coach Jen Trotter was notified that star pitchers Janie Smith and Shyanne Saladino both came down with the flu. Both pitchers stuck it out and helped Western go 5-1 in the classic.
“If someone would have told me that both of our pitchers would have the flu and we’d still go 5-1, I’d take it before it [the tournament] even started,” Trotter said.
The Griffons dominated in their double header to open the tournament.
In game one against the University of Mary Marauders, Western pinned two runs on the board in the first inning, scoring one off of an error and another from third baseman Katie Klostermann’s single, to take a 2-0 lead. That would be enough to clinch the win, but the Griffons would add on two more runs while the Marauders would only manage one run, leading to an 8-1 victory.
Western upped their play in game two against the Northern State Wolves. Once again the Griffons scored first off of a solo homer from second baseman Paige Shifflett in the first inning. The Wolves would come back in the second inning off of an unearned run, tying the teams 1-1. Western would add on 10 more runs while holding Northern State, causing the mercy rule to take effect and ending the game in the fifth inning 11-1.
The Griffons came out of the gate hot against the No. 16 Winona State University Warriors. In the first inning first baseman Kailey Green crushed a three run homer to take an early 3-0 lead. Winona State would battle back, scoring a run in the second and fourth innings and bringing the score to 3-2. The Griffons added on two runs of their own in the fourth and one in the fifth to push their lead to 6-2. The Warriors would not back down, gaining two runs in the sixth inning to make the score 6-4, but Western would hold on to win 6-4.
Western’s battle against the University of Sioux Falls Cougars would be very similar to the previous game. This time the Cougars would strike first with a two run homer, but the Griffons would answer with their own two runs from a SAC fly by designated hitter Taylor Hamilton and an RBI single from Green to tie the game at 2-2. Western scored again in the second inning to take a 3-2 lead, but the Cougars would tie the game 3-3 later in the fifth inning. In the sixth inning Western claimed the lead after three straight doubles from right fielder Megan Korgie, catcher Rebekah Mueller and Morgan Rathmann, which drove in three runs, making it a 6-3 lead. Sioux Falls tacked on two more runs, but it would not enough as Western claimed a 6-5 win.
In game five the Griffons got off to an unusually slow start against the Wayne State College Wildcats. In the second inning the Wildcats piled on five runs plus another run in the third to take a 6-0 lead. The Griffons bounced back by dumping on five runs in the fourth and fifth, plus four more in the sixth to take a 14-6 lead to the victory.
The win pushed their win streak to six total games, but it would come to a halt against Augustana University.
The Augustana Vikings scored in all but two innings while stacking up 16 hits, and the Griffons could not keep up. They would lose the last game of the classic 12-5 to go 5-1 overall.
Even with the flu, Smith recorded a 2-1 record while Saladino went 3-0 in the classic.
Trotter is proud of how her pitchers performed over the weekend.
“Both she [Saladino] and Smith really gutted out some pretty big performances for us,” Trotter said. “To take care of the ball when they didn’t feel well and to manage that type of stress and to come out and do what they did was phenomenal.”
On offense the Griffons scored a total of 50 runs in the classic while only giving up 29.
When one area of play is down the rest have to step up in order to win games, Trotter believes.
“You can pitch great, you can play great defense, you can have good hitting, but when one of those are failing the other two have to pick up and be special,” Trotter said. “I felt like our offense this weekend did their part in being special.”
The Griffons are currently 22-8 overall and 7-1 in the MIAA, good enough for second place in the conference.
Western will embark on a three-school road trip starting with the Lindenwood University Lions on Friday, March 25.