After an uncharacteristically slow start to the season, Western softball appears to have turned the corner as of late, taking three of their four games over this past weekend.
Western played host in the Hy-Vee Softball Classic, taking on teams from outside of the MIAA on their home field.
The Griffons opened up play on Saturday by taking on Northern State University. Western was able to jump out to an early 6-1 lead after two innings of play, only to see Northern State storm back and squeeze out a victory by the score of 9-8.
Immediately after the loss, Western turned right around and took on Wayne State University. It was all Western this time around, as the host team was able to make an early statement by storming out to a 10-run first inning. Western scored in every inning as they won by a convincing margin of 18-2 in five innings. Junior outfielder Shelby Uhl hit for the cycle, going 4-4 with six RBIs and three runs scored. Sophomore Kenzie Hilzer earned yet another complete game victory on the mound.
“I did it this weekend, but I need to get better at keeping that attitude of ‘I’m going to win, I need to win’ mentality through all seven innings instead of thinking like ‘oh, we got ahead, I can just cruise,’” Hilzer said. “It doesn’t matter the losses, I have to just keep wanting to win.”
Western was able to keep the momentum from their huge win into Sunday, as they took on Upper Iowa University in the first game of the day. Hilzer led the way in the circle, going the distance in another complete game victory by a score of 6-3.
In the second game, freshman Kaili Hinds provided a strong outing in the circle, as she went the distance with a complete game victory against Concordia University, St. Paul. Western played a very well-balanced game, grinding out a 5-3 victory. At the plate, senior Shelbie Atwell went 4-7 with two RBIs, adding two runs scored.
“I just have been feeling a lot more confident lately,” Hinds said. “I gave up a few hits, but my defense was there right behind me to make plays.”
This weekend brings Western’s overall record to 10-17 (3-1 over the weekend), and coach Jen Bagley Trotter believes this is just the beginning for this team.
“That was probably the best 14 innings of softball that we have played all year,” Bagley said. “That is what I’m talking about. That is why my voice is hoarse today because that is who we are. That is Griffon Softball.”
Up next for Western is a date with the Hawks of Rockhurst University in a doubleheader on Wednesday, March 21. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.