Marshall‘s streak over as Western swept

Nico Haefinger

Western Illinois softball fell to 2-5 in the Summit League after dropping the two-game series that was cut short one game with the Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne Mastodons.  

Because of wet conditions at the home field, the game was played 45 minutes away at Trine University in Angola, Ind. Despite coming into the day with a three-game winning streak, the Mastodons were connecting at the plate.

Fort Wayne took  Game 1 11-3 in six innings and Game 2 9-1 in five led by a two hitter from Megan Flenniken. It was simply the Mastodons‘ day. Third baseman Ashleigh Bousquet was hit in the hand by a pitch at the start of Game 2 and was still able to drive in five runs — including a grand slam in the fourth inning.

Game 3 of the series was canceled after several hours of raking failed to improve wet field conditions in Fort Wayne. They have had to postpone or cancel every home game this season because of the weather.

On Thursday, the Leathernecks battled non-conference opponent Valparaiso University after being postponed twice. Sammy Marshall — who leads the country in average steals per game — was thrown out for the first time in 58 attempts.

“It was a little frustrating, but I knew it was going to happen eventually,“ Marshall said. “You can‘t go a whole career without getting thrown out once.“

In the top of the first inning, Marshall stole second after hitting a single and was subsequently caught stealing third. Up to that attempt, Marshall was a perfect 58 for 58 in stolen base attempts after leading the nation last year, swiping all 45 bags

she attempted. 

After getting thrown out for the first time, Marshall bounced right back and has stolen another four straight bases in the last three games.

After several lead changes, Valpo took a 7-5 lead after scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Despite being down two in the final inning, the Leathernecks did what they‘ve done all season long and continued to show heart and battle.

“I don‘t think anybody on the team thought we were going to lose that game,“ said Megg Kelly, junior third baseman. “Or at least not go down without a fight in that seventh inning. As long as we keep the mindset that nobody will be us, I think that we can hang with anybody.“

Western showed patience at the plate to start the inning and drew four consecutive walks from three different Valpo pitchers. 

Still down one, senior catcher Alex Pflieger stepped up to the plate and drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single up the left side. She also drove in the go-ahead runs in Western‘s previous game against Oakland.

Marshall went 4-for-6 in the doubleheader with a pair of stolen bases. She also extended her hitting streak to five games and is hitting .571 over that streak. Kelly continued to improve at the plate, hitting a solo home run in  Game 1. That was her fourth home run in the last eight games and her third in conference play.

Pflieger is hitting .346 over Western‘s last nine games. Against Valpo she was 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs — both career highs.

Western is now 8-12 overall and 2-5 in Summit League play. The Leathernecks will return to Mary Ellen McKee softball stadium Friday and Saturday for a three-game series with North Dakota State. Seniors Kelsey Michelini, Pflieger and Julia Katsaros will be honored in the pre-game ceremony for Senior Weekend.

Twitter: @haeflinger33