Softball struggles in opening weekend tournament

David Koier, Courier Staff

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Western Illinois softball team traveled to Rosemont this weekend for their first tournament of the season. The team competed against teams from all over the Midwest including the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix, the IUPUI Jaguars, Evansville Purple Aces, Miami (OH) RedHawks and the Butler Bulldogs.

Play began Friday against Green Bay. The game was scoreless until the top of the third when freshman Kellie Marcheschi crushed a deep fly ball into left field for her second career hit and first career home run as a Leatherneck. That home run was the spark the Leathernecks needed as Tori Boysen singled and was brought home on a double to left-center by Meghan Henson. Ashley Minyard immediately followed Henson’s double with a single up the left side for an RBI single and a 3-0 Western lead.

Green Bay answered in the bottom of the sixth inning on a two-run homer to center by Morgan Bihun to draw within a run. The comeback could not be completed, though, as Western would tack on two more runs late in the game to secure a 5-2 victory. Abby Carlin went the  distance in the circle, striking out four batters without allowing a walk.

Later on in the day, the Leathernecks faced off against IUPUI. The Leathernecks were able to strike first again off of a Hollatz sac fly that scored Ealy from third after her triple early on. Minyard doubled the lead with a double down the left field line. Kyra Kroll hit a triple of her own to lead off the top of the fourth and was driven in with a sacrifice fly by Boyson.

The Jaguars brought in two runs in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit to 3-2, but the Leathernecks responded with three runs in the top half of the fifth highlighted by an RBI single up the middle from Danielle Olson for a 6-2 lead.

IUPUI unleashed six runs in the bottom of the sixth starting with an RBI double to left-center by Delaney Thompson. IUPUI held on in the top of the seventh to pull off the comeback victory.

Savannah Rodriguez recorded a career-high eight strikeouts over 3.1 innings of work in her first start of the season. Maddy Anderson made her collegiate debut on the mound in a relief effort in the bottom of the fourth. Anderson allowed four runs on five hits before handing off to Marcheschi. Marcheschi surrendered three runs on three hits with one strikeout earning the loss.

The rest of the weekend did not get any better for the Purple and Gold after Friday’s nail biter. Anderson took the mound against the Purple Aces Saturday morning, pitching three innings giving up four runs on five hits, earning the loss as the Leathernecks fell 4-1.

Carlin took the mound once again Saturday afternoon in what was an afternoon thriller. The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth when Miami’s Maclai Branson hit an RBI double to give the RedHawks a 1-0 lead, a lead they would hold all the way until the bottom of the seventh.

Rodriguez pinch hit for senior Jasmine Lara in the bottom of the seventh and drove in a run on a single to left to tie the game late. The game would remain tied all the way to the 10th when the RedHawks were able to drive a run in late and hold on to the 2-1 lead for the win. Carlin went the distance once more, pitching 10 full innings surrendering two runs (one earned) on nine hits.

The weekend tournament ended on a sour note as the Leathernecks dropped their final game 8-0 to the Butler Bulldogs. Western travels to the Getterman Classic next weekend in Waco, Texas, with their first game on Friday against Prairie View A&M. The first pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. Twitter: @DavidKoier