Starting on Friday April 3rd, the WIU Leatherneck Softball team found themselves in a 2-day, four game series with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Western entered the series 11 – 15 on the season with hopes to even it with a four-game sweep. Instead, South Dakota State went home with 4 wins including a very tight one Saturday morning. In game 1, Western started strong on the scoreboard with a 3-run homer by DH Savannah Rodriguez in the first inning. This being her 5th home run of the year, it seemed like a promising start for the Leathernecks. Rodriguez is also hitting a notable .345 on the year in 87 AB’s. In the 2nd inning, South Dakota State earned 5 runs including a 2-run homer to cap off the inning. This was followed by two more homeruns in the 3rd inning that led to a 6-run third inning and a one run 4th. The Leathernecks finished game 1 with 4 hits and 3 runs, making it 12 – 3 South Dakota State. Game 2 saw Savannah Rodriguez (3-6) on the mound with her also having one of Western’s two hits in the game. The other belonging to 2B Abrianna Garcia. South Dakota State went on to score 4 in the 2nd inning and an eventual 7 runs throughout. Game 3 on Saturday morning saw Abby Carlin (4-9) on the mound and South Dakota State’s Grace Glanzer (10-2) opposite. Leatherneck SS Sydney Hollings hit a solo home run in the 2nd inning to put Western Illinois in the lead 1 – 0. Starting off the third inning, CF Ashley Minyard reached 2nd base on an error by South Dakota State’s 2B. After 2 fly-outs, a single, and a hit-by-pitch, Western had bases loaded with 2 outs. A potential chance to take a comfortable lead was cut short by a ground out to end the inning. After an uneventful inning in the 4th, South Dakota State tied the game with a base clearing triple in the top of the 5th inning. Making it a 1-1 game going into the 6th. With Hollings up to bat again in the bottom of the 6th, she hit a sacrifice fly in a crucial 1st and third situation to take the lead 2-1. After a triple and a wild pitch in the top of the 7th, South Dakota State had the game all tied up with their CF up to bat. With a game changing home run by their CF, Western was down 3-2 in the bottom of the 7th. After two quick outs, RF Alyssa Ealy hit a clutch triple to left center field putting the tying run in scoring position and the winning run at the plate. After a hard fought at bat, Western went out swinging in a full count strikeout to end the first game of the day. While it was a hard loss, it was a great game. The second game on Saturday saw Savannah Rodriguez on the mound once again in a tough loss. With the end score being 7-0, Western gave up 3 homeruns in the 3rd inning, including two back-to-back. Western’s one hit also came in the 3rd with 3B Bella Alvarez hitting a single to left center field. The Leathernecks’ record now sits at 11-19 on the year and they will be taking on Drake University in Iowa on Tuesday April 6th. Be sure to tune in and cheer for our very own, Western Illinois Leathernecks!