Western softball opened up their conference season on a very positive note this weekend, winning three of their four games over the weekend.
On Friday, Western opened up in St. Charles, Missouri, to take on the Lions of Lindenwood University for a doubleheader.
Game one turned into a hard-fought battle between two strong MIAA teams, with both teams trading blows back-and-forth for most of the game. Western managed to pull out the victory, their first in conference play, by a score of 4-3. The winning run came from a base hit in the seventh inning by junior outfielder Shelby Uhl that drove in the go-ahead run. Sophomore Kenzie Hilzer earned the victory on the mound, tossing a complete game while striking out three.
“Getting off to a strong start in conference play definitely has its advantages, but we’re just trying to take it day by day,” Hilzer said. “The start is just as important as the middle and the ending, and we plan on keeping the same mindset for each game.”
Game two was a different story for Western, however, with Lindenwood steamrolling to an 11-2 victory in just five innings of play. Western could not overcome a brutal seven-run third inning, which essentially put the game out of reach.
On the day, Uhl continued to lead the way offensively. Over both games, Uhl went 4-6 at the plate, while driving in four runs.
On Saturday, Western traveled down to Jefferson City, Missouri, to take on the Blue Tigers of Lincoln University in another doubleheader. Western was able to be on the other end of a sweep for the first time this season, taking both games from Lincoln by a combined score of 20-2, both games being called early due to run rule. During both games, Western’s pitching was able to keep Lincoln down from the beginning and allow the offense to take over and put some runs on the board early. For Western, junior infielder Lonnie Groves went 4-6 at the plate, driving in three runs, while adding two runs of her own. Kenzie Hilzer again picked up the victory on the mound, going five innings while only surrendering one run. Freshman Kaili Hinds came on in relief to throw a scoreless sixth.
When asked what she can attribute the team’s sudden turnaround and strong start in conference play, head coach Jen Bagley Trotter speaks to the team taking the time to make adjustments.
“After last week, we had a week off to address some things defensively,” Trotter said. “The break also gave Barb (Billingsley) a chance to get healthy.”
Western will look to build off their recent success as they travel down to Commerce, Texas, to take on Texas A&M University – Commerce. First pitch is scheduled for Monday, March 12 at 2:00 p.m.