Softball comes up wth three-game sweep on Senior Day

David Koier, Courier Staff


MACOMB, Ill. — Rain delays and schedule changes couldn’t stop the Western Illinois softball team from celebrating their seniors with a three game sweep against Summit League foe Purdue Fort Wayne.

Western started off the scoring quickly in game one. Senior shortstop Payton Abbott double into left center and was immediately scored when Mastodon center fielder Brooke Imel misplayed a single from fresh

man Danielle Olson in the bottom of the first.

Imel would get her revenge in the bottom of the third when she hit a leadoff bunt single. She would later score when left fielder Lauren Watson hit an infield single. Camryn Mosher would score on an error by Meghan Henson to take a 2-1 lead.

Western wouldn’t surrender the lead for long. In the bottom of the third, senior Hailey Duwa and junior Halle Hollatz reached base on an error and double respectively. Sydney Hollings stepped up next looking to drive in a run or two but was not able to as she flew out to right field at a depth that couldn’t allow Duwa to tag up.

With two outs and runners on second and third, Leatherneck senior ace Emily Ira would drive in Duwa with an infield single to first base. Aly Compton followed up with an RBI single of her own to take back the lead for the Leathernecks.

Western would go on to win game one 3-2 behind the dominance of Ira in the circle. The senior pitched a full seven innings for her 61st career complete game. Ira only allowed one earned run off of four hits and one walk while also striking out nine in the process. This win marked the 11th on the season for Ira and the fourth straight for the Leathernecks crew.

In game two, the Leathernecks scored first once again making it their seventh game in a row where they put the first run on the scoreboard. After a leadoff ground out by Jasmine Lara, Mastodon starting pitcher Lauren McConnell walked four Leatherneck hitters in a row for the opening run of the game.

A Fort Wayne pitching change couldn’t stop the Purple and Gold from scoring one more as Sydney Hollings was able to look at four go by and take first base scoring Olson in the process for an early 2-0 lead.

The Mastodons would strike back quickly when a sacrifice fly by Imel in the top of the second scored Morganne Denny to bring the score within one. Western would reclaim their two run lead in the bottom of the third off of a Sydney Hollings RBI triple.

Fort Wayne scored three in the top of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead and potentially end Western Illinois’ winning streak at four games. The Purple and Gold had other plans.

Fort Wayne got an early out on a ground out by Abbot and were two outs away from their ninth win of the year. A walk and an error later and the potential tying and winning runs were aboard in the forms of Danielle Olson and Duwa.

Hollatz singled up the middle to score Olson and tie the game for Western. Hollings popped up in the infield for out number two. With one out to go before extra innings, Compton stepped up to the plate with the opportunity to walk it off for Western. And walk it off she did. A single to left center scored Duwa and won the game for the Purple and Gold 5-4.

Game three would begin after a nice ceremony before the game honoring the seniors on the team and all that they’ve accomplished at Western. Fort Wayne would score first and after three innings had a 3-0 lead.

Behind Western’s hot bats and solid pitching in the circle from Ira, the Leathernecks went on to beat the Mastodons 9-3 for their second consecutive series sweep. In her final performance from Mary Ellen McKee stadium, Emily Ira pitched her 62nd career complete game allowing three runs off of eight hits while striking out five.

Western looks to close out the season with their final series of the season on the road against the Mavericks of Omaha. Game one is set for this Saturday with first pitch scheduled for noon.