After busting out the brooms against the Washburn Ichabods, the Griffons claimed the MIAA Championship on Friday and capped the weekend off with a sweep of the Emporia State Hornets.
Western was 9-1 in their last 10 games heading into the Washburn double header, but head coach Jen Trotter knew that they could not underestimate the Ichabods.
“Washburn is always one of those teams that puts up a respectable offense,” Trotter said. “I was really worried about that match-up for us, but we took care of business.”
The Griffons started off game one against the Ichabods with a bang. Left fielder Sydney Washington and right fielder Megan Korgie blasted back-to-back homers in the second inning to give Western a 3-0 lead. They scored again in the fourth inning off of Morgan Rathmann’s single and held Washburn scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning when they knocked a one-run homerun. The Ichabods could not claw back, giving the Griffons a 4-1 victory.
Western piled on the runs in game two. Third baseman Katie Klosterman and Washington drove in the first seven runs for the Griffons. Both players hit homeruns, Klosterman recorded a double and Washington added a single, giving the Griffons a 7-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Washburn fought back, driving in four runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to 7-4. The Griffons held on as first baseman Kailey Green hit a homerun and Rathmann singled, leading to an 11-4 win.
Green and Washington launched homers number 14 and eight respectively while Klosterman and Korgie drove their homerun totals to 10 and two respectively. Pitcher Janie Smith improved her record to 19-8, striking out 11 batters in game one and fellow pitcher Shyanne Saladino struck out two while improving her record to 18-3 in game two.
After the Washburn double header Western learned that they had won the conference championship, beating out rival Northwest.
Trotter believes that one of their biggest strengths is how the Griffons play as a team.
“What continues to be a great thing about this team is that they’re able to fight together,” Trotter said.
Emporia was next on the list to cap off their MIAA championship season.
In game one the Griffons piled on a lead throughout the game while holding the Hornets scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning. Five players drove in RBIs the give Western a 7-0 lead before Emporia was able to tack on three of their own runs, adding one more in the win column by a score of 7-3.
Game two was a defensive battle between the Griffons and Hornets. Emporia struck first to give them a 1-0 lead in the second, but Western added on one in the third and fourth to take a 2-1 lead. That’s how the game would stay, as both team were held scoreless through the last three innings, completing the sweep for the Griffons.
Green took her team leading homerun total to 15 as Saladino recorded another win, giving her a 19-3 record.
The Griffons finished the regular season at No. 1 in the conference by four games, which Trotter knows is a great accomplishment.
“I knew that we were going to have a good season, but for us to get out of the MIAA, as tough as it is, by four games is something that I wouldn’t have anticipated, so that’s pretty neat,” Trotter said.
Western will face No. 8 in the conference Southwest Baptist in game one of the MIAA tournament. The Griffons went 1-1 against the Bearcats during the season but Trotter thinks that might have been a good thing in the long run.
“I’m grateful now for that split because I think that it will make sure our young ladies are really focused in because they know what can happen if we don’t play our best against that team,” Trotter said.
The MIAA Tournament begins in Oklahoma City, OK on Thursday April 28 at 5 p.m.