The No. 18 Griffons captured sole possession of first place in the MIAA after they swept both Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State over the weekend.
Western began their rise to first with two dominating wins over the Lions on Friday by a score of 10-2 and 10-1.
In game one the Griffons sent the first run across the plate off of second baseman Paige Shifflett’s single in the first inning. The game was blown wide open for Western in the second inning when they piled on six runs, including a three RBI homer from first baseman Kailey Green. The momentum of that inning carried the Griffons to a 10-2 mercy-rule win.
Western kept their foot on the gas in game two. They scored 10 runs, with help from a four RBI bomb from third baseman Katie Klostermann, before the Lions could score their first run. Once again the Griffons claimed a mercy rule victory with a 10-1 score.
Although head coach Jen Trotter didn’t believe that Missouri Southern brought their A-game, she’s happy that her team got the sweep.
“They’re a better team than what they played like on Friday, but I wasn’t going to be upset about that,” Trotter said. “I felt like that was really important to set up Saturday, with our offense feeling confident on Friday and with us being able to limit some innings.”
The first game of the Pittsburg State double header was a completely different battle from the Missouri Southern series.
In game one neither team scored until the tenth inning when Shifflett hit a walk off single to take an extra inning 1-0 win. Pitcher Janie Smith held the Gorillas to only two hits in ten innings with six strikeouts while posting a shutout.
While the Griffons were able to come away with the win they struggled against opposing pitcher Emmie Robertson who struck out 18 Western batters.
The low scoring affair is a rarity that used to be the norm in softball according to Trotter.
“That is fast pitch softball and there’s not very many games anymore where you’re playing 10 innings without a score,” Trotter said. “It’s just been a lot more offensively driven lately.”
The Griffons got back to their high scoring offense in game two. Although they didn’t score in the first inning, the defense did hold the Gorillas in the first and second innings. Western struck first in the bottom of the second inning, knocking three singles, which produced three runs. They added on four more runs in the sixth inning while Pittsburg State managed to score just once in the second, putting another one in the win column for Western with a 7-1 score.
Trotter had high praise for the two senior pitchers who fought hard on senior day.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Janie Smith. On senior day you always worry about the emotions involved,” Trotter said. “Smith and Shyanne Saladino just absolutely owned it.”
The Griffons are on an eight game win streak and are now No. 1 in the MIAA with a conference record of 19-3 and an overall record of 34-10.
Western’s next test will be against the rival Northwest Bearcats who are currently second in the MIAA and are on a nine game win streak. The double-header begins Thursday, April 14 at 4 p.m. at the Griffon Softball Field.