DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Western Illinois University softball team traveled to Florida this past week to face off in their final series before The Summit League. The Purple and Gold faced off in a doubleheader this past Wednesday against the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman.
Game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader was a pitcher’s duel that only had two base runners in the first three innings. Bethune-Cookman junior Jacki Smith singled in the bottom of the first, but was thrown out by Western catcher Meghan Henson. Leatherneck junior Halle Hollatz walked on four straight pitches in the top of the second but was left stranded when pitcher Emily Ira struck out.
The Leathernecks gained some momentum in the top of the fourth when senior Hailey Duwa recorded Western’s first hit of the game with a two out double to left field. Immediately following Duwa’s double sophomore Ashley Minyard knocked a single to right field that advanced Duwa to third.
After a steal of second base by Minyard, the Leathernecks had two runners in scoring position for Hollatz. Western couldn’t capitalize as Hollatz struck out, leaving the two runners stranded.
The Wildcats finally broke the scoring silence with a double steal in the bottom of the fourth which gave them a 1-0 lead. A single by Kaiya Epps-Lee scored another and the Wildcats would take a 2-0 lead.
The Leathernecks couldn’t find home in game one and dropped the first game in the doubleheader 2-0. Earining the win for the Wildcats was pitcher Alexis Bermudez. Bermudez only let up three hits, walked two and struck out six while pitching seven scoreless innings.
The loss was given to Ira who let up six hits, two runs and no walks, while striking out five in six innings pitched.
Game two was another pitching duel that saw a total of four hits and no runs between the two teams in the first four innings. Western were the first on the board in the top of the sixth. A leadoff bunt and an immediate steal by sophomore Alyssa Ealy gave Western a runner in scoring position early in the inning. A sacrifice bunt by Jasmine Lara advanced Ealy to third and a sacrifice fly by Payton Abbott scored Ealy for a Leatherneck lead of 1-0.
The Wildcats responded quickly in the bottom of the ninth as junior infielder Brianna Paysinger doubled off of Leatherneck pitcher Abby Carlin to score two and give Bethune-Cookman a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Wildcats would take game two and the doubleheader with a 2-1 victory over the Purple and Gold. Earning the win was Destiny Enriquez, who let up five hits, one run and one walk, while striking out one in seven innings pitched.
The loss was awarded to Western’s Abby Carlin who pitched six letting up six hits, two runs and no walks while striking out two.
The Leathernecks head home this week for their first home series and first Summit League series against the 16-15 Coyotes of South Dakota. The first pitch of game one happens this Saturday with a doubleheader at noon.