The Ronnie Hawkins Invitational held some ups and downs for the Griffons as they left the season opening tournament with a 2-2 record. On day one, Western faced the Harding University Bison, defeating them 7-5, and lost to the Ouachita Baptist University Tigers 5-6. Day two was similar to day one with the Griffons falling to the University of Arkansas at Monticello Weevils 6-9 but once again defeating Harding 4-1. Head coach Jen Trotter believes that the offense performed well while the defense played slow. “In a nutshell, I think the good is that we were scoring a lot of runs,” Trotter said. “I think the bad is that we still had to score more in order to win two more games and come home 4-0.” In game one against the Bison, sophomore Shelbie Atwell started the Griffons’ season off with a second inning grand slam. Western scored again in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead. Neither team scored in the third and fourth innings but in the fifth inning Harding piled on five runs of their own to tie the game. In the sixth inning Atwell singled to left, bringing in junior Megan Korgie to take a 6-5 lead. Sophomore Paige Shifflett knocked a double to center, driving in junior Sydney Washington to lead to a 7-5 victory. Both Ouachita and Western scored a run in the first inning of game two. Although both teams remained tied 1-1 through the second inning, the Tigers took a one run 2-1 lead in the third inning. The Griffons took a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning off of a junior Morgan Rathmann single to score junior Katie Klosterman, and sophomore Rebekah Mueller stole home. The teams continued to go back and fourth, never getting farther than a run in front of the other, but in the end Western would fall to Ouachita after the Tigers scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5. During day two, game one, Western was on the wrong side of a grand slam against Arkansas-Monticello. After a home run from freshman Taylor Hamilton tied the game at four a piece, the Weevils nailed a fifth inning grand slam to take an 8-4 lead. Western added a couple more runs, but Arkansas-Monticello would not be stopped. They scored one more time before winning 9-6. The Griffons faced a familiar opponent in the Bison for game four of the tournament. Both teams were scoreless until the fourth inning when Shifflett reached base on a fielder’s choice, allowing Rathmann to score, and Hamilton singled to left, scoring Washington, to give Western a 2-0 lead. Harding’s lone run came in the fifth inning after an error allowed a run. The Griffons would tack on two more runs in the seventh to win their final game of the invitational at 4-1. Although many players had success over the weekend, Trotter was most impressed by Hamilton, who recorded at least one hit in each game and added one home run. “We know that she has a lot of fire power, but the thing that was really cool to see is that her mentality at the plate is that of a senior right now,” Trotter said. “You like that from your young kids, to have that kind of savvy.” The Griffons came home with a 2-2 record but the issues that they had during the tournament are not permanent, according to Trotter. “The issues that we saw, I’m not thinking this is who we are,” Trotter said. “I’m thinking this is what we have to work on.” Western is preparing for this weekend’s UAM 8-State Classic, where they will once again begin the tournament against Harding University on Friday Feb. 12 at 11:00 a.m.
Coach Jen Trotter and the Missouri Western softball team get their season started Feb. 6 in Arkadelphia, Ark. The team will take on Harding University at 11 a.m. followed by a matchup with Ouachita Baptist University. Even with the loss of a few key players, Trotter says that there is plenty of talent on her team. “We return a lot more than we lost,” Trotter said. With so many returns, the team has high hopes after having a successful 2015 campaign. “I feel good with saying that this team can compete with the best in the conference,” Trotter said. The team will participate in the UAM 8-State Classic, the Kelly Laas Invite and the Teri-Mathis Zenner Memorial Tournament before opening up conference play at home against Northeastern State. Infielder Shelbie Atwell believes the tournaments give the team a great opportunity to bond. “Traveling on the bus, going out to eat and staying in hotels gives us a lot of time to get to know each other,” Atwell said. The Griffons will start the season ranked No. 16 in the nation. Missouri Western is the only MIAA school ranked in the preseason top 25. “You know we’re ranked 16th, but we’ve already decided that we’re not going to settle for that,” Atwell said. Atwell started 52 games for the Griffons last season, hitting .295 while driving in 27 runs. She will be one of the infielders counted on to replace the offense of All-MIAA second baseman Tiffany Gillaspy, who graduated last year. The Griffons will be led by a strong offense, but also returning is pitcher Janie Smith. The senior has improved each of her first three seasons, last year posting a career best 2.69 era. “I really worked on my spin work and really hitting my spots over the offseason,” Smith said, “I would really like to get more strikeouts to help my defense.” The Griffons outfield will not lack experience, with a combination of Sydney Washington and Morgan Rathmann who are both in their junior year. “I spent the offseason fine-tuning all of my skills,” Rathmann said. The Griffons have the talent, coaching and leadership to contend for not just an MIAA championship, but the ability to contend for a national championship. Being the favorites in the conference does not guarantee them anything and this is something the team is well aware of. “Team goal is obviously winning that national championship,” said Atwell.
[caption id="attachment_25615" align="alignnone" width="300"] Griffons Nicole Lindsey-Collier, Eric Walker and Amy Beverly are inducted into Hall of Fame. Zack Papenberg | Photo Editor[/caption] Missouri Western has inducted three more former student-athletes into their Hall of Fame. Amy Beverly, Nicole Lindsey-Collier and Eric “Ebo” Walker make up the 2015 class. They were inducted on Friday evening, before receiving their Hall of Fame rings at halftime of the Western’s 26-21 win over Fort Hays State. Eric “Ebo” Walker, Football (1999-2002) Walker anchored the Griffon defense early in the Jerry Partridge era of Missouri Western football. After a pair of 5-6 seasons to begin the Partridge era, Walker’s 1999 squad went 7-4 and began a run of Griffon success that resulted in only one losing season in the next 16 season. The linebacker’s personal accomplishments include leading the team in tackles each of his final three season’s in the black and gold. His career tackles record of 416 still stands as a Griffon record. “It takes a lot to make that many tackles,” Walker said. “It was something I was striving for from the time I came in.” It is not his tackling ability that left the biggest mark on the program according to Partridge though. “I give Ebo a lot of credit for ‘The Griffon Way,’ of doing things for football.” Partridge said. “Ebo was one of the very first leaders we had.” According to Partridge, Walker’s attitude and leadership were what made him a Hall of Famer. “He had that great tempo and attitude. He didn’t look like much, wasn’t very fast or very strong,” Partridge said. “One year, we had Griffon Olympics, where we did all the testing for broad jump and vertical, I think Ebo came out 79th out of 85 or something like that. He was that bad of an athlete, but he was just so smart and physical and such a good leader. He exemplified what we wanted out of our program.” Amy Beverly, Softball (2003-2006) As much as Walker was a model for the ‘Griffon Way’ in football. Amy Beverly was that figure for Jen Bagley-Trotter’s softball program. “It means the world to me,” Beverly said on her Hall of Fame selection. “Missouri Western changed my life for the better and I am very honored.” The Ankeny, Iowa native joined the squad in Bagley-Trotter’s second season at the helm of the program. Together they quickly turned the program into the constant winner that it still is today. “She took a gamble on me,” Beverly said. “Her first year there, she saw someone wearing a t-shirt that had Ankeny on it and the girl told her that I was really good. So she had me come down and visit and watch me practice and offer me scholarship.” In Beverly’s junior and senior seasons, the Griffons reached the 40-win mark, including 48 in 2005 which still stands as the programs top mark in the current era. “We were just playing softball,” Beverly said. “And we just started getting better and better and better and becoming more aware of the talent we had on the team and where we could go.” Beverly finds herself solidly in the MWSU record books as well. Her 263 career hits make her the top all-time in program history. She also holds the marks for most doubles, total bases, putouts and double-plays. Beverly says the memory that stands out the most to her was something that didn’t even focus on herself. “My senior season, the umpire got upset,” Beverly said. “We were playing Missouri Southern at Central because of rain. The umpire said in like the fifth inning that the game was over and the other team just won. So Coach Bagley got kicked out of the game and she proceeded to do handstands in centerfield.” The softball program is one of the most successful teams that Western has and the passion from people like Bagley-Trotter and Beverly are major driving forces why that is the case. Nicole Lindsey-Collier, Basketball (2001-2003) Lindsey-Collier has seen the Griffon program from all angles. She was a standout player, before facing the Griffons as a rival coach at Lincoln. “It's exciting and it's difficult to come back (to Western) to play,” Lindsey-Collier said. “There are so many good memories there. You walk in and see the banners and have the good memories.” Now she can add Griffon Hall of Famer to her resume. In just two seasons with the program as a transfer from Jefferson College, where she is also a Hall of Famer, Lindsey-Collier led Western No. 1 rankings in each of her seasons with the team. “We took a lot of pride in the way we played,” Lindsey-Collier said. how we played and how hard we played. So we had a lot of pride in that and we got the acknowledgment from the national rankings.” An unstoppable force inside during her career, Lindsey-Collier is second all-time for Western with 272 single-season rebounds. During her junior year, the Griffons won the MIAA championship. She was also an All-American finalist in each of her seasons at Western. Even though Lindsey-Collier is a rival coach, it is hard for her not to find herself pulling for her alma-mater. At least, when she’s not playing them. “If its outside of the conference, I’m always black and gold. That’s who I am and what I bleed.”
The Griffons wrapped up their last two road series of the season, sweeping both Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State, to increase their record to 32-14 overall. Western found themselves in close games all weekend, winning three games by one run and one game by two runs. A streak of close games proved the team’s resilience to adversity according to head coach Jen Bagley-Trotter. “It was great to see that our pitching and defense was able to hold teams off so that we could squeak out a run and get a win,” Bagley-Trotter said. “I think it was good for us to be able to play in some tight ball games and come out ahead. It was a good show of character for our team bouncing back from Tuesday.” In game one against Southern, the Lions jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning, but the Griffons would claw back after scoring two runs in the fourth inning. In the top of the fifth inning, Western would take a 4-3 lead after scoring two more runs, but Southern soon tied the game in the bottom of the inning. The Griffons would take the lead in the seventh inning after a wild pitch scored second baseman Tiffany Gillaspy. The Lions could not recover in the bottom of the inning, which lead to a 5-4 victory for Western. Game two turned into a defensive showdown that left both teams scoreless going into the seventh inning. In the top of the seventh Gillaspy flied out to left field, scoring left fielder Brooke Schaben to take a late 1-0 lead. The Griffons prevented the Lions from coming back in the bottom of the seventh and gained another close win by a score of 1-0. Dealing with 1-0 ballgames is a new kind of pressure that Western has not had to worry about too often this year, explains Bagley-Trotter. “I don’t know the last time we’ve been in a 1-0 ball game and that feeling is definitely a lot more pressure than when you’re in a slugfest,” Bagley-Trotter said. “In the end you’re still dealing with the difference of a run or two, but just that 1-0 ball game, there’s just a different vibe for that.” After sweeping Southern, the Griffons headed to Pitt State for their last series of the weekend. Game one again was another defensive battle but, instead of the winning run coming in the seventh inning, Western scored the eventual winning run in the first inning off of a solo homer by Gillaspy. The Griffons held strong for the rest of the game and won their second 1-0 game in a row. The second game of the series was the complete opposite of the previous two games. The Griffons and Gorillas each knocked three home runs, which were spread out between five of the seven innings. In the end, Western won the slugfest 7-5 to complete the weekend sweep. The Griffons move into their two-week break with a 32-14 overall record, ranked third in the MIAA with a 16-6 record and are currently sitting at No. 24 nationally. Bagley-Trotter believes the two-week break between games is exactly what the team needs right now. “Early on I was worried about this break coming up,” Bagley-Trotter said. “As it turns out, with the injuries and when I look at them [the players] and see that they are worn down, I think the fact that we have a couple days here where we can get away from it and let them relax will be a good thing for us.” Western faces Washburn University and Emporia State for their last home series of the year. Although those games are right before the MIAA Tournament, Bagley-Trotter says the team will be focused on one game at a time. “The last weekend, especially with where everybody is standing in the conference right now, we have to be looking at these last two series as we need to win the game we’re in all weekend long.” Bagley-Trotter said. “More than the big picture of the conference tournament or regionals or anything like that, we have to put ourselves there by being able to go and play good softball for those four games.” The Griffons begin their last home stretch against the Washburn University Ichabods on Friday, April 24, and end the regular season against the Emporia State University Hornets on Saturday, April 25.
Griffon softball showed consistency in making their streak 16 in a row beating the Lincoln Lions. The Griffons have been on a row lately, and they didn’t stop sweeping the Lions in the series. The Griffons currently have an overall record of 25-9 and are 10-2 in the MIAA. The Lincoln Blue Tigers now have an overall record of 3-27 and is 2-14 in conference play. The Griffons are also on a home win streak with a record of 14-0 at the Spring Sports Complex. They are ranked #17 in the JFCA National Poll for the first time this season. On Friday’s doubleheader, the Griffons beat the Lindenwood Lions 5-2 and 6-4. On Saturday, the Griffons came out with the same momentum beating the Lincoln Blue Tigers 9-0 and 8-0. Tiffany Gillaspy feels that they are playing with a lot of confidence, but they are not getting out of character. She stated that they have done a good job of starting games off well. “We’re definitely playing confident, but still within ourselves,” Gillaspy said. “In the past, we weren’t starting out games strong, but now we are playing all 7 innings strong.” Coach Jen Bagley-Trotter says that her team needs to keep doing the little things right. “We did a good job against Lincoln doing the small things right,” Bagley-Trotter said. “ We cleaned up our defense, made sure we were swinging in control, and we were able to put more wins together, and this was a good weekend/learning experience.” Bagley-Trotter stated that even though they are on a win streak, they have to continue to stay loose and practice well. “We have a good time in practice,” Bagley-Trotter said. “ I think it is important to keep them loose and continue to do small things right. There is a very focused effort at practice. The longer we go with success, we have to continue to stay focused and don’t tense up” Bagley-Trotter also said that they are happy about the win streak, but her team doesn’t think about it too much. “I don’t think about the win streak too much,” Bagley-Trotter said. “ I don’t hear the girls talking about it too much, but I know it’s a fun thing for the media and fans, but in terms of us and our approach, we don’t talk about it. Not that we don’t want to talk about it, it's just not important.” In the series against Lincoln, Gillaspy also felt that they had an all-around good game. “We hit well, pitched well and we didn’t let up. We kept the gas pedal on,” Gillaspy said. Gillaspy has been recognized nationally and was named National Player of the Week. Gillaspy said that she is happy about the recognition but wants to remain humble. “It feels good to be recognized nationally,” Gillaspy said. “I try not to let it get to my head. I just stay humble and play with confidence.” The Griffons are set to play Fort Hays State in a conference doubleheader in Hays, Kansas. First pitch is set for Friday, April 3 at 3 p.m.