The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.

Western Courier

Softball drops first Summit series to Bison

Sophomore+hurler+Emily+Ira+delivers+a+pitch+at+Mary+Ellen+McKee+Stadium+in+Game+1+of+Saturday%27s+double-header.
Sophomore hurler Emily Ira delivers a pitch at Mary Ellen McKee Stadium in Game 1 of Saturday's double-header.

Sophomore hurler Emily Ira delivers a pitch at Mary Ellen McKee Stadium in Game 1 of Saturday's double-header.

Sophomore hurler Emily Ira delivers a pitch at Mary Ellen McKee Stadium in Game 1 of Saturday's double-header.

Mat McClanahan

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Western Illinois softball hosted North Dakota State University this past weekend and was on the losing end of the series. The Leathernecks won the first game and lost the last two to bring their season record to 19-26 and their conference record to a solid 10-5. This was the first series loss for the Leathernecks, but they still remain five games above 500, in conference, as the season starts to come to a close.

In the team’s first game of the weekend, both pitchers were dealing. Western’s, Emily Ira, was near perfection when the Leathernecks squeaked out a 1-0 win. The first three innings, the Western Illinois defense could have stayed in the dugout, Ira struck out the first nine batters that she saw and gave up just a single hit the entire game. NDSU’s pitcher was not bad herself, Jacquelyn Sertic only allowed two hits and a run, but that was enough to lose the matchup. Western got one of their two hits in the second inning, but that would not be the hit that mattered. It was not until the bottom of the sixth inning that Rachel Beatty roped a one-out triple to put the Leathernecks in prime scoring position. The next batter was Nina Maggio who hit a sacrifice fly to score Beatty and ultimately give the Leathernecks a victory.

The second game was a little different when the Leathernecks got handled, 11-3. In the top of the first inning, the Bison doubled their hits from the game prior and scored three runs to get on top of the Purple and Gold early. Western’s hero from the first game, Beatty, responded in her own way when she smoked a home run to dead center.

In the top of the third, NDSU put up another crooked number and scored three more runs to jump out to a 6-1 lead. The Bison would not let up’ they scored another three runs in the top of the fourth inning to stretch their lead to 9-1. The game only got uglier, and ultimately ended in an 11-3 Leatherneck loss.

With a night’s rest, Western tried to win the series Sunday morning, but not even Ira could pitch the Leathernecks out of NDSU’s steady bats.

Western struck first in the bottom of the second. Holly Hoelting led off the inning with a walk, and Hailey Duwa would not leave her there long. Duwa smoked a home run down the third baseline to score a pair of runs for the Leathernecks. Western kept their foot on the gas, Beatty leading off the inning with a single. Maggio and a wild pitch advanced Beatty to third, which set up Kelsey Marlow with a RBI opportunity. Marlow flew out, but Beatty tagged and extended the Western lead, 3-0.

NDSU started their comeback efforts in the top of the fourth with a single run that brought the ball game within two runs, 3-1 Western. Western could not score in their half of the inning, and the Bison took advantage and piled on another run to bring the score to 3-2. Western would score their last run of the game, with some help from the Bison. With two outs, Maggio reached first on a drop third strike and would advance to second when Marlow walked. NDSU had a throwing error and Maggio found her way around to give Western a 4-2 advantage. NDSU brought two around to tie up the ball game and ultimately send the game into extra innings. In the top of the eighth, the Bison had a pair of hits to ultimately win the ball game.

“Today was a tough loss,” said head coach Holly Van Vlymen. “We came out, were fired up and ready to go. It was senior day, but I’m very proud of our team and the way they came out and played a tough North Dakota State team. Sometimes when you lose games, you learn a little bit more than when you win games, so there were definitely some learning moments that we had in this game that we’ll be able to use going into the final part of the season.”

With two weeks left in the season, Western has just one more conference series left with South Dakota State to solidify their conference title. However, Western will travel to Iowa City to play the University of Iowa this Wednesday in hopes of taking down the Big 10 powerhouse. Twitter: @MacIsland13

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Softball drops first Summit series to Bison