GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Emily Ira took the mound in game one of a three- game series against new Summit League foe North Dakota this past Friday and put on a show for the Fighting Eagles.
Ira was on the mound for the Leathernecks as she went all five innings of Friday’s mercy rule, allowing no runs on just one hit striking out seven of the first nine batters she faced on her way to a total of 11 strikeouts.
Game one remained scoreless until the top of the fourth inning when the Purple and Gold were able to load the bases with one out. Freshman designated player Danielle Olson was able to single to center field, scoring Payton Abbott in the process. An error later in the inning allowed Hailey Duwa to cross giving Western a 2-0 lead.
That didn’t end the scoring for Western in the fourth. Still with one out, Aly Compton launched a ball deep for a grand slam that widened Western’s lead to 6-0. In the top of the fifth, Olson singled back up to the pitcher allowing Ashley Minyard and Sydney Hollings to score two more unearned runs.
Ira was able to strike out two in the bottom of the fifth to solidify Western’s 8-0 mercy win against the Fighting Eagles. Western’s head coach Beth Golitko stated how happy she was with Ira’s performance.
“Emily was feeling really good. Her pitches were working left and right. When Emily is on, it’s a really good day,” said Golitko.
Ira was on the mound once again Saturday afternoon for the Leathernecks. Western started the scoring early when Hollings doubled in the top of the first inning, scoring Abbott.
North Dakota was able to score their first run of the series in the bottom of the first when center fielder Angel Love was able to drive in teammate Jailene Carpio to tie the game at one.
Hollings drove in another in the top of the third when a sacrifice fly scored Compton. Abbott was able to tally one more for the Purple and Gold when in the top of the fifth she singled on an 0-2 pitch and drove in Leatherneck right fielder Alyssa Ealy.
The Leathernecks were able to cross seven more in the top of the sixth off of Ira and Jasmine Lara singles, a Duwa double and a sac fly by Abbott.
The Fighting Eagles weren’t able to get the bats going themselves and took the 10-1 loss in their second mercy rule of the weekend. Ira earned herself the win once more with four hits and one run accompanied by eight strikeouts in six innings of work. Ira’s record for the season improved to 10-6 with the win.
Western was able to secure the sweep in game three, but it wasn’t without a North Dakota fight.
Danielle Olson was able to add to her already stellar weekend in the top of the first when her fly out to right field was able to secure a run for Western when Lara crossed the plate.
Olson earned two more RBIs for herself when she singled in the third, scoring Abbott and Lara. North Dakota tacked on a run of their own in the third when Love singled to score Carpio once more.
Ashlynn Uvila flew out in the top of the sixth to score one more for the Fighting Eagles, but the comeback was not in the stars. Ira came in for relief in the seventh and was able to solidify a series sweeping 3-2 win.
Golitko has been impressed with how the team has been playing lately according to GoLeathernecks.com. “It’s all about when we peak and when everything starts coming together. We’re always thinking about trusting the process and looking at the major outcome we want to get to.”
Western hopes to keep this winning streak going as they stay on their home turf this weekend for their final homestand of the season. The Leathernecks face off against the Mastodons of Purdue Fort Wayne from Mary Ellen McKee Stadium in a doubleheader on Saturday with the series finale Sunday afternoon.