The No. 15 Griffons split the season series with rival Northwest Bearcats last week as they went 1-1 during the Thursday double-header.
Head coach Jen Trotter knows that both teams have been equally matched this season.
“Playing Northwest [shows] just how evenly matched our two teams are,” Trotter said. “We’ve faced each other four times this year, we’re 2-2 and the difference in our teams in the wins and losses is there are very few runs that separate us.”
In game one, the Bearcats started with a bang, bringing in two runs off of a first-inning homer. Northwest scored again in the fourth inning off of another home run to take a 3-0 lead. Western struggled to get anything going offensively until the bottom of the seventh inning. They began their late game comeback, but fell short after scoring just two runs, falling to the rivals 3-2.
Pitcher Janie Smith took the loss, dropping her record to 18-8, while giving up just three earned runs on four hits.
Trotter knows that pulling off a comeback is not the ideal position to be in.
“The late inning rally, you can’t rely on that and get yourself in such a hole,” Trotter said. “You run out of outs before you get to make up the difference in the game.”
The beginning of game two was a defensive battle between the rivals but again the Bearcats put the first runs on the board in the fourth inning to take a 2-0 lead. The Griffons fired back in the fifth inning; scoring a run off of a single from left fielder Sydney Washington to shorted the lead to 2-1. Northwest added another run in the sixth inning to go back head by two with a 3-1 score. The late game rally worked for the Griffons this time around as they scored two runs off of homers from third baseman Katie Klostermann and Washington, taking the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the eighth designated player Taylor Hamilton knocked in a walk-off double to claim a 4-3 victory.
Pitcher Shyanne Saladino recorded the win, improving her record to 17-3 while recording four strikeouts and giving up one earned run.
Although the late inning comeback didn’t work in game one, Trotter was proud that her team didn’t give up on the game to come-from-behind victory.
“Our team did a great job of rallying back,“ Trotter said. “We had put ourselves in a bit of a hole, we had four error, which is really uncharacteristic, but that says a lot about the job that Saladino did in the circle.”
After going 1-1 in the Northwest double header, Western is 35-11 overall and 19-3 in conference, while still sitting at the head of the MIAA.
Next up on the list for the Griffons are double headers against the Washburn Ichabods and the Emporia State Hornets.
Although both teams are towards the bottom of the conference, Trotter knows that they can’t take the games lightly.
“We have to approach this weekend knowing that we’re going to see their [Washburn/Emporia] best version,” Trotter said. “We have to take care of business with our team to try and go after a conference title.
The Washburn double header begins Friday, April 22 at 2 p.m., with the second game at 4 p.m. The Emporia State games begin Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.