Griffons take MIAA title with weekend sweep

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.

Griffons have strong recovery over weekend

Western tennis made a quick recovery over the weekend after falling hard. The Griffons opened up the weekend on Friday, April 15 against the Bearcats of Southwest Baptist. In singles matches, Southwest Baptist cleaned up with a complete sweep. Yasmine El Ghazi fell 6-2, 6-2 in the No. 1 spot. At the No. 2 spot, Sarah Giraldo fell 6-0, 6-0. Sofia Aguilera couldn't claim a victory in the No. 3 spot, losing 6-0, 6-2. Joanna Abreu Roman narrowly missed out on a victory, losing 6-3, 7-6. Western still couldn't gain traction in doubles matches. El Ghazi and Aguilera fell 8-1 in the No. 1 spot. Giraldo and Abreu Roman took a 8-2 loss in the No. 2 spot. The 9-0 loss would be the Griffons third straight loss of the season, and the first three-game skid since 2013-14. Head coach Shawn Becker knew how difficult the match would be going into it on Friday. "Southwest is a good team and they're a different type of good team," Becker said. "We haven't really played against that type of player. These were girls that could go out...and hit their spots...It was the most emotional our team has ever gotten. There were a couple tears afterwards." Despite taking a hard loss, a bit of good came from Friday's match. Aguilera was injured during the match, however she powered through and finished her singles and doubles matches. "We also had an injury that popped up," Becker said. "That kind of got everybody freaked out. When somebody falls down crying right away, you're like, 'What is going on?' Luckily, it's not much of an issue. Sofia got back up. She finished her doubles match; she played singles no problem. So, we rested her on Satuday." Western would look to recover the next day against Lincoln University. It was the Griffon turn to sweep the competition. They cleaned up the singles matches, winning all six. El Ghazi claimed her match at No. 1 6-0, 6-0. Giraldo took a 6-0, 6-2 victory at the No. 2 spot. Abreu Roman cleaned up the No. 3 spot 6-1, 6-0. Meara Smith took the No. 4 spot 6-0, 6-0. Denise Chiao and Lindsay Beger took the No. 5 and 6 spots with 6-0, 6-0 victories respectively. Western continued the sweep going into doubles matches. El Ghazi and Aguilera took the No. 1 spot with a convincing 8-1 victory. Beger and Giraldo claimed the No. 2 spot victory with an 8-2 score. Chiao and Abreu Roman took No. 3 with a 8-0 win. For the second time this season, the Griffons took a 9-0 victory. "We knew we out-matched Lincoln and it was a matter of us not losing games," Becker said. "I wasn't asking for perfection, but I didn't want us to lose any points, any games, that we shouldn't be losing." This win snapped their losing streaking at put them at 9-5 overall. "We risk this new sense of expectation on us with a regional ranking last week and trying to build up momentum here for our match against Lindenwood, and then playoffs," Becker said. "We wrapped up a playoff spot, we'll be there, we're just working on seeding at this point. We know how big Sunday is against Lindenwood." Western will close out the regular season with senior day this Sunday, April 24 against Lindenwood. The Griffons will be sending off Beger, Chiao, Smith and Giraldo as they finish up their careers as Griffons.

Griffon offense keeping MIAA in check

It is nearly impossible to beat a baseball team who is averaging nine runs a game, and that is the lesson that the rest of the MIAA is learning. After a win against Northwest last Wednesday and a three-game sweep of Fort Hays, the Griffons brought their winning streak to seven games. Western traveled to Maryville last Wednesday to face their rivals in the first matchup of the season. The game was tied at one after the first inning and stayed that way until infielder Cosimo Cannella broke the tie with an RBI triple in the top of the fourth. Catcher Brandon Downs drove-in Cannella right after to give the Griffons a 3-1 lead. Northwest scored their last run in the fifth inning. Western added four more runs in the sixth inning, giving them an 8-2 victory. David Glaude led the Griffons with three hits and three RBIs. Pitcher Alex Clavet went six innings, allowing two runs and striking out seven. Coach Buzz Verduzco really enjoyed this victory. “Anytime you can beat the Bearcats, that’s a plus,” Verduzco said. The Griffons traveled to Hays, Kansas last Thursday to start a three-game series against the Tigers. The offense was brilliant again in game one, winning the game 16-7. By time the Hays scored their first run, Western was already ahead 6-0.  The Griffon’s biggest inning came in the sixth when they scored six runs. Second baseman David Glaude was the star offensively, recording three hits and driving in six runs. Left Fielder Orencio Fisher recorded four hits in his five plate appearances. Pitcher Weston Caindec had another solid outing for the Griffons, pitching seven and a third innings and allowing just two earned runs. Caindec threw 117 pitches and the win improved his record to 4-1 on the season. Western was dominant on both sides in game two, winning 13-2 in eight innings. The Griffons' offense continued to do what it does best: score a lot of runs. Glaude, last week’s MIAA Offensive Player of the Week, had two hits, two RBIs and scored three runs. Downs hit a three-run homerun in the sixth, one of 16 hits for Western. Right fielder Kody Matthews had a big day at the plate, collecting five hits in five plate appearances while driving in four runs. “He [Glaude] is a big-time pressure hitter because he doesn’t get excited or dejected,” Verduzco said. “He just goes out and plays, which is really good.” Pitcher Richard Peoples threw seven innings, allowing just two runs and one strikeout. Peoples did find a lot of Tiger’s bats, allowing ten hits in his start. The win was the pitcher's seventh of the season. “I’ve just been sticking with the game plan and trusting the defense behind me,” Peoples said. The final game of the series went a little differently than most of the Griffons' wins this season. The team scored less than four runs—and won the game. Thanks in part to strong pitching, Western won the game 2-1. Fort Hays struck first in the game, scoring their one and only run in the bottom of the first. The Griffons were able to tie the game in the top of the third when catcher Alex Heuring homered to right center field. It was in the sixth inning that center fielder Nick Gawley would score Glaude on a single up the middle, giving Western the run they needed to win the game. Pitcher Evan Jones was the star of the game, pitching seven innings and yielding just one unearned run. Jones allowed just three hits, while striking out three. Pitcher Preston Bailey earned the save, pitching two shutout innings. “The pitchers did an outstanding job here at Hays,” Verduzco said. Tuesday was the second battle between the rival Northwest Bearcats and the Griffons. Western continued to keep their foot on the gas offensively as they dominated Northwest 12-2. The Griffons recored 16 hits as opposed to the Bearcats six and Western's pitching staff struck out six batters while the Northwest staff only whiffed four. The eight game win streak propelled the Griffons into second place in the MIAA. The conference’s second best offense will try to keep the bats going against the University of Nebraska at Kearney on Friday, April 22 at 6 p.m. “We want to keep the same intensity we’ve had on the road this week at home,” Verduzco said.

Griffons hold firm in top 10 on day two of MIAA Championships

It's crunch time for the Western men's and women's golf teams. Both squads wrapped up round two of three on Tuesday, April 19. The women have taken sole possession of fourth place after an impressive 322 round. An improvement of 19 strokes made all the difference for the Griffons. The women went into Tuesday's round tied with Central Missouri for fourth after firing a 341 team score in the first round. Celine Lim and Shi Qing Ong wrapped up the first round tied for 14th place overall after both shooting 83. Lim shot 80 in round two, holding firm at 14th overall with a 163 score. Qing Ong was narrowly behind her, shooting 82 in round two. She sits at 17th place overall. Madison Romjue, how shot an 88 on day one, improved with a 78 on day two. With a score of 166, she is tied for 18th overall. Western wrapped up day two with a 663 overall, moving 10 points ahead of Central Missouri. Lindenwood holds the No. 3 spot with 646. Central Oklahoma sits tight at the No. 2 spot with a 633, while Northeastern State has a 605 going into the final round. As for the men, the Griffons have taken over seventh place at the end of day two with a 613. Corey Knight entered day two tied for third overall after shooting a 74 in the first round. He shot a 76 in round two and now sits at 15th overall with a score of 150. Ryan Hand shot an 80 in the first round, but cleaned up for a 74 on day two. He now sits tied at 26th with a 154. The race for first is much closer for the men. Western is only one stroke behind Northeastern State for sixth, and six strokes behind Nebraska-Kearney for fifth. Washburn hold down third with a 602. Central Missouri and Lindenwood are tied for second with 595 each. Central Oklahoma sits tight at first with 585. Both teams will wrap up the MIAA Championships with the final round on Wednesday, April 20.

Griffons, Bearcats even in season series

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.