Demons fire on all cylinders, sweep Mt. Pleasant
MT. PLEASANT — All facets were working for the Washington softball team in a Thursday night Southeast Conference sweep of Mt. Pleasant. The Demons had the hitting, pitching and defense they needed to get the wins.
They also had the promise of puppy chow as motivation.
Washington junior Ashley Rausch was celebrating a birthday yesterday, and she promised her teammates that she would bring them a birthday treat for after the doubleheader — on one condition.
“I threatened them with puppy chow — if we didn’t win, they wouldn’t get it,” Rausch said.
But the Demons (20-8, 10-4 SEC) ran away with both games, winning by scores of 11-1 and 13-1, and the snack just made the night sweeter.
Rausch played a big role in the wins, pitching game one and limiting the Panthers (8-23, 2-10 SEC) to just one run on five hits, while coming up with a few hits at the plate to help herself out — she went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles.
Senior Maddie Bohr was on the mound for the second game, and she pitched another gem for the Demons. She also gave up just five hits for one run.
“[Rausch and Bohr] struggled the other night at Keokuk with the strike zone, but came back and did a great job tonight,” Washington head coach Angie Shrader said. “We just reminded them that they’ve got everyone behind them, and I think that gave them some confidence — they came out with some fire and pitched very well.”
“I just had to step up my confidence and mix up my pitches to keep them off-balance,” Rausch said.
But both Rausch and her coach credit the Demon’s bats with the victories.
“Our hitting [was the key to the win], definitely,” Rausch said.
“[We were] very aggressive at the plate,” Shrader said. “In both games, we got a quick lead, and then we had a couple really good innings.”
The Demons scored two runs in the first inning of the opener and three runs in the first frame of the nightcap.
Senior Kaitlin Buchholz was 3-for-4 with a home run that smacked right into the scoreboard. In the second game, senior Sammy Ellingson went 3-for-4, while junior Stephanie Fishback, junior Grace Redlinger and sophomore Kolbi Breard were each 2-for-3. Redlinger had a double.
Washington also got help from seven Mt. Pleasant errors in the doubleheader, and head coach Angie Rodgers noted that her young Panther squad needs to work toward playing a smarter game.
“We’ve got [a young team] out there, and we’re playing against a team of juniors and seniors,” she said.
But it’s not all about age.
“We’re halfway through the season and there are things we should be executing, but we’re still struggling,” she added. “We need to work on mental toughness and playing all seven innings.”
The Panthers are also battling injuries that are keeping some of their veterans out of the game.
Sammi Goble, a senior, is only batting, out with a wrist injury after the game against New London. Junior Leslie Taylor is also out with an injured ankle, which she sustained in the last Friday’s games at Burlington.
At the plate, freshman Morgan Fraise led the Panthers in the opening game, going 2-for-3. Goble, sophomore Jena Stukerjurgen and junior Ali Dorn had one hit each, and Dorn knocked in the team’s only run.
In game two, it was sophomore Hattie Leichty who stepped up with a pair of hits. Goble, Stukerjurgen and Dorn also hit — Goble had a triple and scored on eighth-grader Sarah Moffett’s sacrifice fly.
Both the Demons and the Panthers were scheduled to play in the Mt. Vernon Tournament today, starting at 11 a.m.
"We just need to keep hitting and keep our confidence up and have a lot of fun," Rausch said.