Softball takes down Mastodons


Angel Strack/ Courier Staff

Jasmine Lara at the ready in the outfield.

Bradley Piros, Courier Editor

MACOMB Ill. – The Western Illinois University softball team opened up a three-game series with the Indiana University-Purdue University of Fort Wayne Mastodons on Saturday. The Leathernecks hosted the first two games with spectacular back-to-back double header wins.

The first game was all Leathernecks, as they cruised to a 5-0 victory. They got things started early as they had a 2-0 lead at the end of the first inning. Sophomore Jasmine Lara singled down left field and then freshman Ashley Minyard getting hit by a pitch at the top of the line-up. Senior Kelsey Marlow was also walked to leave the bases loaded with no outs for junior Hailey Duwa. She was also walked, bringing in Lara. Junior Payton Abbott then hit a sacrifice pop fly over third base to score Minyard to make it 2-0. There were a pair of strikeouts by the Fort Wayne pitcher to get out of the inning.

The score stayed the same until the bottom of the fifth, when sophomore Sydney Hollings crushed a homerun to left field to make it 3-0.

Minyard got base again, this time with a single to start of the sixth inning. Marlow also singled up the middle to put runners on first and second as Duwa stepped up to the plate. She doubled up the middle to let both runners score to make it 5-0 which ended up being the final score.

After about a half hour, game number two was underway. The Leathernecks found themselves on base first again, as Marlow was walked in the bottom of the first. Duwa reached second base off of an error by the third baseman and Marlow scored. Abbott then singled to right field to bring in Duwa for the 2-0 lead after one inning.

This time the Mastodons had a response, as they scored seven to kick off the second. Freshman Stephanie Hanic tripled to right field. Courtney Holm reached first off of an error, then stole second. Brooke Imel was then walked to get bases loaded with one out. Jenna Balthazor was hit by a pitch, advancing the runners and bringing in Hanic, but they weren’t even close to done.

Back at the top of the lineup, Lauren Watson singled to right field to bring in Holm. With bases still loaded, Lacey Wilzbacher singled to left field, scoring Imel. Morganne Denny was hit by a pitch, once again advancing the runners, and bringing in Balthazor. Maria Palmegiani was also hit by a pitch, bringing in Watson to make it 5-2, but they still weren’t done.

With all the commotion, junior pitcher Megan Lotarski was pulled to bring in senior Brooke Stulga to get out of the inning. She was unable to do so cleanly. Demitra Burns hit a sacrifice pop fly to right field bringing in Wilzbacher, then Hanic singled to left field, bringing in Denny to make it 7-2. Holm grounded out to finish a terrific inning.

The Leathernecks also had a response. Sophomore Megan Henson singled to right field to kick things off, followed by another single by senior Rachel Beatty. Runners advanced off a wild pitch to put them on second and third. Lara was then walked to get the bases loaded.

That brought up Minyard as she reached first on a fielder’s choice. Beatty and Henson both scored off of a double error play. Marlow also reached first on another fielder’s choice, this time to shortstop. She advanced to second because of a wild throw, and Minyard and Lara scored. Abbott smashed a homer to right center to dramatically tie the game at 7-7.

Heading into the seventh inning, the score was 9-8 in favor of Fort Wayne. The Leathernecks were up to bat in the bottom of the inning. It was their last chance to try and comeback.

Sophomores Halle Hollatz and Hollings singled to third base to put runners on first and second. Beatty flied out to center field to advance the runners, as junior Emily Ira came in to pinch run for Henson. This brought freshman Alyssa Ealy to the plate. She recorded her first collegiate hit, as she walk off doubled to center, bringing in Ira and Hollatz for the 10-9 comeback win.

It was great, it was dramatic, and it was the Leathernecks fifth straight win. They’ll be on the road this Saturday as they travel to Iowa State in search of more wins. They’ll return home on April 22, as they open up an eight-game home stand against the University of Omaha Nebraska Mavericks.

Twitter: bradjp08