- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 23 March 2016
- Written by CONNOR WHITE | SPORTS EDITOR
The MU softball team had a successful spring break this past week, going 5-4 with one rainout in ten games while taking multiple trips across the country.
The Hawks (9-8) traveled thousands of miles playing in three different locations, with games in Los Angeles, CA and DeLand and Jacksonville, FL.
“The preseason is great, especially for our sport,” head coach Shannon Salsburg said. “It gives us a chance to grow together and figure out what we need to work on, while also building a team chemistry.”
MU kicked off the break in Los Angeles with a 12-0 win against Fairleigh Dickinson University. The Blue and White were led offensively by junior outfielder Justene Reyes, who crushed two home runs and drove in four RBI, and freshman infielder Nicole Wieczorek, who recorded three hits and also added four RBI. Junior Sydney Underhill took home the win, throwing four scoreless innings.
After a pair of one-run losses to Harvard and Loyola Marymount University, the Hawks battled back to finish the tournament with two wins, beating FDU 11-2 and Harvard 6-5.
“The competition we faced this break was great,” Salsburg said. “There were three teams there that can win their division—LMU, Harvard and us.”
MU recorded a six-run sixth inning to secure their second win against FDU and walked-off on Harvard on a throwing error by the Ivy League university in the bottom of the seventh. Underhill earned wins in both games, hurling four innings and giving up no runs in each contest.
The Hawks then hopped on a plane and took to DeLand, FL for a double header against Stetson University.
MU took the first of two games with a 4-2 victory behind back-to-back home runs in the second inning by Wieczorek and Jill Freese. Rachel Shotzberger had a team-high four hits, while Emma Hill and Ashalynn Umiamaka added three hits apiece. Underhill took home yet another win, allowing only 2 unearned runs in her complete game effort.
However, in game two it was Stetson who came away on top, beating the Hawks in walk-off fashion, 5-4. The game was tied at one going into the top of the eighth inning, but MU singles by Chloe Howerth and Rachel Shotzberger, and a run crossing the plate after an errant throw on a delayed steal put the Hawks up, 4-1.
Stetson rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning with an RBI double and a walk given up by starting pitcher Amanda Riley, forcing the Hawks to place Underhill back in the circle. However, after a walk, single, and another bases on balls, the Hatters had the bases loaded with the tying run on third. A four pitch walk by Underhill would force in the winning run, splitting the series.
“We got to see a lot of things, such as errors and walks, that we can continue to adjust and work on in practice,” Salsburg said.
The Hawks then traveled to Jacksonville, FL to play a double header against Jacksonville and a third game against North Florida to finish their spring break road trip.
Freese led the way for MU in their game one 7-4 victory, going 2-3 with a home run, three runs scored and two RBI. The Hawks were also supported with a five-run first and three hits by Wieczorek, and a pair of two-hit days from Howerth and Umiamaka. Underhill picked up the win for MU allowing two earned runs in four innings of play, and Riley finished the game for a save, striking out three in 2.2 innings.
“Our ERA [Earned Run Average] has been down as a whole so far this year,” Salsburg said. “All we’ve had to do is simplify the process. Sydney and Amanda are great pitchers, they just sometimes get in their own way.”
Jacksonville would bounce back, however, to win game two, 5-0. The Dolphin’s score one run in the second and two runs in the fourth and fifth innings, giving pitcher Paige Curtis more than enough run support as she threw a complete game shutout.
Katie Baron hit a solo home run in the contest against North Florida, where the Hawks came back from a 4-2 deficit to tie it at four in the top of the fourth inning. However, after a scoreless bottom of the fourth, the game was forced to cancellation by heavy rain. Since five innings were not played, the game was not recorded as official and none of the statistics in the contest will count towards either team.
The Hawks will travel to Newark, DE for a double header against the University of Delaware on Wednesday, Mar. 23. Game one is set to start at 1 p.m.