Demons split with Chiefs
After a four-game losing streak, the Washington softball team needed something to jump-start some momentum back into its game.
They were able to do that in Game 1 of the doubleheader against conference opponent Keokuk on Monday night, winning 3-2, but Keokuk struck back and forced a split, taking Game 2, 4-2.
The Chiefs took a run early from Demon starting pitcher Ashley Rausch after a two-out double from Baily Roth scored Alyssa Wessel, to give Keokuk a 1-0 lead after the first half inning of Game 1.
Rausch shut the Chiefs down for the next five innings, as the Demons attempted to get on the board.
After drawing a one-out walk in the fifth, Washington’s Lexi Redlinger came around to score on an RBI single from Chayse Jaspering, who was a combined 4-for-6 in the two games, also drawing two walks.
In the sixth, Grace Redlinger took a lead-off walk, and would eventually be driven in by a Kolbi Breard single to give the Demons a 2-1 advantage going into the seventh.
Keokuk picked up a run in the top of the seventh with two outs to tie things up, and it came down to the bottom of the seventh for Washington.
With one out, Stephanie Fishback hit a double to the fence, and Jaspering reached on a walk. Rausch lined out to the second baseman, before Grace Redlinger put a charge into a ball with two outs. The center fielder barely missed a home run by a foot, but it was plenty to score Fishback and win the game in walk-off fashion.
“It was a matter of not giving up, and we had been hitting the ball fairly hard, it was just a matter of it was right at people,” head coach Angie Shrader said. “Grace came up with the clutch hit and it was a foot and a half from being over the fence. The kids want to fight and want to win, especially against Keokuk. We came out tonight ready to play softball. Saturday (6-0 loss to Pella) we looked like we didn’t care, and we didn’t have a whole lot of life to us, so it was good to see.”
Ashley Rausch allowed two runs in the game, giving up only four hits and two walks, while striking out seven over seven innings.
“I was just pitching,” Rausch said on her night. “We had new uniforms and I was excited and ready to play and it went really well.”
In Game 2, Keokuk struck fast, with the first four batters getting hits, including a three-run home run that went off Redlinger’s glove and over the fence, as the Chiefs took a 4-0 lead in the first half inning.
Rausch came in for relief of Amber Linnenkamp, and pitched 1 2/3 innings, before Linnenkamp came back to the circle in the third inning. After giving up those four runs, Linnenkamp shut down the Keokuk offense, spreading out five hits and two walks, with none coming around to score, over the final five frames.
“(Amber) had to calm down a little bit after that crazy first inning,” Shrader said. “You can’t script something that goes off a glove, the center fielder hits her head on the fence and then the ball goes over the fence. It’s a fluke, and, sure, it was a hard-hit ball, but that’s not something you expect to happen. We were in the ballgame the rest of the way, but we left too many runners on base.”
But it was up to the Washington offense to get them back into the game, and in the fourth inning, the Demons were able to plate two with Jessie Buchholz connecting on an RBI triple to bring in Morgan Brinning, and then Buchholz scoring on a sacrifice fly from Breard to cut the Chief lead down to two.
The Demons were able to threaten in the bottom of the seventh, having runners on second and third with two outs, but were unable to bring any more runs home, to give Keokuk the win.
Over the course of the two games, the Demons left 13 runners on base, with 10 of them stranded in scoring position.
“We are getting people on base, but are just leaving too many out there,” Shrader said. “Part of that is we just don’t have the bunt game going. We need to make the kids confident and we need to get their bunts down and that’s something we just have to work on.”
Washington is now 3-6 overall (2-4 in conference play) and will face Oskaloosa in a doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon.