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.