Griffons take five of six

To wrap up spring break the Griffons took five of six games during the Apple Market Softball Classic last weekend. Before the tournament even started head coach Jen Trotter was notified that star pitchers Janie Smith and Shyanne Saladino both came down with the flu. Both pitchers stuck it out and helped Western go 5-1 in the classic. “If someone would have told me that both of our pitchers would have the flu and we’d still go 5-1, I’d take it before it [the tournament] even started,” Trotter said. The Griffons dominated in their double header to open the tournament. In game one against the University of Mary Marauders, Western pinned two runs on the board in the first inning, scoring one off of an error and another from third baseman Katie Klostermann’s single, to take a 2-0 lead. That would be enough to clinch the win, but the Griffons would add on two more runs while the Marauders would only manage one run, leading to an 8-1 victory. Western upped their play in game two against the Northern State Wolves. Once again the Griffons scored first off of a solo homer from second baseman Paige Shifflett in the first inning. The Wolves would come back in the second inning off of an unearned run, tying the teams 1-1. Western would add on 10 more runs while holding Northern State, causing the mercy rule to take effect and ending the game in the fifth inning 11-1. The Griffons came out of the gate hot against the No. 16 Winona State University Warriors. In the first inning first baseman Kailey Green crushed a three run homer to take an early 3-0 lead. Winona State would battle back, scoring a run in the second and fourth innings and bringing the score to 3-2. The Griffons added on two runs of their own in the fourth and one in the fifth to push their lead to 6-2. The Warriors would not back down, gaining two runs in the sixth inning to make the score 6-4, but Western would hold on to win 6-4. Western’s battle against the University of Sioux Falls Cougars would be very similar to the previous game. This time the Cougars would strike first with a two run homer, but the Griffons would answer with their own two runs from a SAC fly by designated hitter Taylor Hamilton and an RBI single from Green to tie the game at 2-2. Western scored again in the second inning to take a 3-2 lead, but the Cougars would tie the game 3-3 later in the fifth inning. In the sixth inning Western claimed the lead after three straight doubles from right fielder Megan Korgie, catcher Rebekah Mueller and Morgan Rathmann, which drove in three runs, making it a 6-3 lead. Sioux Falls tacked on two more runs, but it would not enough as Western claimed a 6-5 win. In game five the Griffons got off to an unusually slow start against the Wayne State College Wildcats. In the second inning the Wildcats piled on five runs plus another run in the third to take a 6-0 lead. The Griffons bounced back by dumping on five runs in the fourth and fifth, plus four more in the sixth to take a 14-6 lead to the victory. The win pushed their win streak to six total games, but it would come to a halt against Augustana University. The Augustana Vikings scored in all but two innings while stacking up 16 hits, and the Griffons could not keep up. They would lose the last game of the classic 12-5 to go 5-1 overall. Even with the flu, Smith recorded a 2-1 record while Saladino went 3-0 in the classic. Trotter is proud of how her pitchers performed over the weekend. “Both she [Saladino] and Smith really gutted out some pretty big performances for us,” Trotter said. “To take care of the ball when they didn’t feel well and to manage that type of stress and to come out and do what they did was phenomenal.” On offense the Griffons scored a total of 50 runs in the classic while only giving up 29. When one area of play is down the rest have to step up in order to win games, Trotter believes. “You can pitch great, you can play great defense, you can have good hitting, but when one of those are failing the other two have to pick up and be special,” Trotter said. “I felt like our offense this weekend did their part in being special.” The Griffons are currently 22-8 overall and 7-1 in the MIAA, good enough for second place in the conference. Western will embark on a three-school road trip starting with the Lindenwood University Lions on Friday, March 25.

Trotter reaches 500 wins

Head softball coach Jen Trotter made it to the 500 win milestone after the Griffons defeated McKendree University in the last game of the Teri-Mathis Zenner Memorial Tournament over the weekend. Trotter admits that the day meant a lot to her. “It’s been pretty neat, [Sunday] was a pretty special day,” Trotter said. “It’s fun to enjoy a milestone like that with people that you care about.” Trotter began coaching at Western in 2002 and is now in her 15th season with the Griffons. She took the Griffons to its first NCAA Division II national tournament in 2005 and has made eight total NCAA Regional tournaments. Trotter has led Western to become MIAA Regular Season Co-Champions in 2011 and her teams have made 14 straight MIAA Tournament appearances, winning the tournament in 2014. Western has had at least 40 wins five times in 14 years with the most being 48. Through the years Missouri Western has become a home for Trotter and she is thankful to have gotten her opportunity. “The big thing is just getting really lucky to have gotten this position when I did, at the time that I did,” Trotter said. “Missouri Western has been good tome, it’s been a good place to work and being able to have some of the athletes that I’ve coached over the years has been pretty special too.”

Western wraps up pre-conference play

Western wrapped up their last pre-conference tournament last weekend going 2-2 during the Teri-Mathis Zenner Memorial Tournament in Joplin, Mo. Game one against the Drury University Panthers was all about the Griffons. Western struck first in the first inning when designated hitter Taylor Hamilton drove in center fielder Morgan Rathmann off of a single. That run would be enough for the victory, but the Griffons piled on four more in the second inning and three more in the third before the game was called in the fifth inning, giving Western an 8-0 win. The Griffons racked up nine hits including doubles from third baseman Katie Klostermann and right fielder Megan Korgie, along with a triple from Rathmann. Pitcher Janie Smith gained another win, only allowing three hits and picking up seven strikeouts. Head coach Jen Trotter believes they played a solid game all around. “Our offense was on fire, we were able to do all of the little things,” Trotter said. The Rockhurst Hawks were next up for the Griffons in game two of the tournament, but after the dominant outing, Western fell short. Once again the Griffons put the first run of the game on the board, but it didn’t come until the fourth inning when Klosterman singled, driving in pinch runner Shelby Uhl. The Hawks answered in the fifth inning when an error led to an unearned run. Rockhurst drove in four runs in the fourth inning thanks to a single and a three run homer. Western tried to battle back, but was only able to score once more from second baseman Paige Shifflett’s single. The Griffons fell to the Hawks in game two 5-2. Pitcher Shyanne Saladino got the loss, giving up five hits in five innings with five strikeouts. Western was pitted again the University of Sioux Falls Cougars for game three. The Griffons jumped on top, scoring one run in three straight innings to take a 3-0 lead going into the sixth inning. The Cougars exploded for five runs courtesy of a double and grand slam, taking a 5-3 lead. Klostermann crushed her second homerun of the game bringing Western to 5-4 but in the seventh Sioux Falls added two more runs and the Griffons couldn’t recover, dropping game three 7-4. Western only managed four hits in the game, but two were Klostermann homers and one was a Hamilton double. Smith received the loss allowing eight hits with five strikeouts. The Griffons got back into the win column against the Bearcats of McKendree University for the final game of the tournament. Again, Western was on top early after scoring a run in the first, second and third innings, one of which came from another Klosterman homer. McKendree tied up the game at 3-3, forcing extras. It wasn’t until the ninth inning that Shifflett hit a walk-off double to take game four 4-3. Defeating the Bearcats also gave Trotter her 500th win of her career. Saladino gained a win while whiffing 12 batters and Klostermann led the team at the plate, going 2-4. Trotter believes that was the good way to end the tournament. “It was a good match-up, it was a good game,” Trotter said. “We stayed really tough and were able to win that extra inning ball game.” Although the Griffons are 10-6 on the season, there are some tweaks that need to be made, but the entire team is ready to work, according to Trotter. “We’re all on the same page, we all know what’s going on, we just have to roll up our shirt sleeves and get at it this week,” Trotter said. Next up for Western is the MIAA home-opening double header against the Northeastern State RiverHawks on Friday March, 4 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Dominant pitching leads to four wins

The No. 16 Griffons picked up four wins with two shut outs out of five games in the Kelly LAAS Invite over the weekend. Head coach Jen Trotter believes that all-around solid play from the Griffons led to their success. “We pitched well, we played very good defense and our offense did what we needed to do to win four games,” Trotter said. Friday featured a match-up against the Minnesota State University- Mankato Mavericks. The Griffons brought in runs early in the game when third baseman Katie Klostermann drove a two run homer to left center field in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. That alone would be enough for the win, but Western added a little insurance in the fourth inning off of a triple from center fielder Morgan Rathmann that scored Klostermann to gain a 3-0 lead. Minnesota-Mankato managed to score one run off of a solo homer, but Western would take game one of the Invite, 3-1. Pitcher Janie Smith allowed only four hits in the game while Klostermann went 2-3 at the plate with a homerun and a double. On Saturday the Invite held two games for the Griffons, the first against the Southwest Minnesota Sate University Mustangs. The tough pitching freed up the offense to pile on the runs. First baseman Kailey Green got it started with a solo home run in the second inning, and in the third inning second baseman Paige Shifflett, designated hitter Taylor Hamilton and left fielder Sydney Washington all drove in runs to give the Griffons a 5-0 win. Green led the Griffons at the plate, going 3-3 with a RBI and two runs scored. Pitcher Shyanne Saladino controlled the game from the circle, allowing only one hit in the whole game, and recorded her first shut out of the year. Trotter is proud of how well Saladino has developed. “She’s just pitching a lot more confidently. She’s also hitting her spots, including the spots off of the plate, and she’s had some really successful outings as a result.” Game three of the Invite and the second of Saturday pitted Western against the Concordia University Golden Bears. Again the Griffons struck first, scoring their first run in the first inning as Shifflett got caught stealing, allowing shortstop Shelbie Atwell to score. The Golden Bears tied up the game in the third by scoring a run off of a double. Western surged ahead though, scoring two runs in the fourth off of singles from right fielder Megan Korgie and Atwell. The Griffons scored again in the sixth off of another Atwell single, leading to a 4-1 victory over the Golden Bears. The win streak came to an end on Sunday against the No. 20 Augustana University Vikings. The Vikings put the first runs on the board in the first inning off of a two run homer to take a 2-0 lead. The Griffons were able to get a run back in the third when catcher Rebekah Mueller scored an unearned run, cutting the lead to 2-1. Augustana tacked on one more in the fifth to push their lead to 3-1 and Western would not be able to fight back, falling to the Vikings 3-1. The Griffons got back into the win column during the second Sunday game and the last game of the Invite against host St. Cloud State University Huskies. Once again Western’s defense controlled the St. Cloud bats and the Griffon offense racked up hits. Hamilton drove in two RBIs, both off of separate singles in the first and third innings. Green drove in their last run in the fifth off of another single, giving Western a 3-0 win. Saladino added another shutout to her season while striking out five batters. Rathmann went 2-4 while scoring twice. Trotter believes having Rathmann in the lineup gives the Griffons a whole new different set of options on offense. “There’s just so many things you can do with her speed,” Trotter said. “Her speed on the bases just opens up so many options for us.” With the latest victory Western is now 8-4 on the young season and have one last road tournament in Joplin, Missouri before opening up MIAA play at home against the Northeastern State RiverHawks.

Defense assists Western in two wins

Although half of the UAM 8-State Classic was cancelled, the Griffons found success in winning two of their three games. Head coach Jen Trotter believes the season will change once the team plays at a high level every game. “This last weekend, we were able to make some big plays and kind of play with some more confidence, but now we have to make sure that we are doing that on a consistent basis,” Trotter said. “When we get that consistency on defense, a lot of things will begin to change for us.” Game one against the East Central University Tigers featured tough defense and flashes of power for Western. In the second inning, first basemen Kailey Green cracked a solo homer to right center field to give Western a 1-0 lead. The next inning second baseman Paige Shifflett knocked her own solo homerun to right field to increase the lead to 2-0. The initial run would be enough to win, the second was a little insurance and pitcher Janie Smith made sure that East Central would not have a chance to gain ground, with a little help from center fielder Morgan Rathmann who threw out a runner at the plate. Smith pitched seven innings with six strikeouts and gave up only four base hits while recording the shutout. Trotter was happy with the way her defense performed in the game. “We got a great performance from Janie Smith in the circle; she really handled the game really well and kept our offense in a situation where we were able to score some runs,” Trotter said. “We also had some pretty big defensive plays by Morgan Rathmann, who was able to have a couple of catchable throw runners out at the plate kind of plays that made that a fun game to play.” In the second game, the Griffons were on the wrong side of Arkansas Tech’s power as they hit a solo homer in second inning to take a 1-0 lead. Later in the fifth inning, Shifflett singled allowing left fielder Sydney Washington to score and designated hitter Taylor Hamilton sacrificed, driving in Rathmann to take a 2-1 lead. The Golden Suns then exploded for a five-run sixth inning off of a few singles and an error to take a 6-2 lead. Western would not gain ground and Arkansas Tech tacked on two more in the seventh to defeat the Griffons 8-2. It was all Western through the majority of game three against the Missouri S&T Lady Miners. The Griffons were handed an easy run in the first off of a walk that scored Rathmann. Then in the fourth inning, they piled on six more runs from a solo homer by right fielder Megan Korgie, a pair of doubles and an error. Missouri S&T tried to fight back, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fourth, but Western would add two more to their lead in the fifth and went on to win 9-3. The Griffons are now 4-3 on the season and, after two tournaments, Trotter thinks that their strong junior class is beginning to show more leadership. “I’m starting to see more of a willingness to step up and say things, they now feel as though it is ok to have a voice,” Trotter said. “It’s nice to have that strong leadership because, not only do we have three seniors, but those juniors have had a lot of innings too.” Western has another lengthy tournament in St. Cloud, Minnesota with the Kelly LAAS Invite. They begin the tournament on Friday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m. against Minnesota State University-Mankato.