Frustrating finishDemons snap Fairfield's 14-game winning streak, but split the doubleheader
FAIRFIELD — Washington pitcher Ashley Rausch seemed to have all the confidence in the world as she limited No. 15 Fairfield to just two runs in the first game of Monday’s Southeast Conference softball doubleheader, which her team won 4-2 to snap the Trojans’ 14-game winning streak.
But she ended the night with tears in her eyes after she and the Demons coughed up the second game of the twin bill.
No. 12 Washington led 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning of the second game, and Washington head coach Angie Shrader brought her ace pitcher into the game to try to slam the door on the Trojans. But three walks and a key hit by Fairfield junior Marisa Repp allowed the Trojans to escape with a 4-3 win and a split of the doubleheader.
“We walked too many and then they came up with the hits that they needed to,” Shrader said.
Fairfield senior Katie Anderson led off in the seventh inning and sent a slow roller to the left side. Washington third baseman Joni Erwin charged the ball and made a strong throw to first base, but it was high and Anderson reached safely on the error. After a walk and a pair of wild pitches, Repp singled up the middle to bring Anderson home to tie the game.
“I was just like, ‘Dear, God, please drop,’” Repp said. “That’s all I could think of.”
Repp, who leads the Trojans with 20 RBIs on the season, was 0-for-3 at the plate in the game up to that point. She had grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the first inning.
“Marisa had struggled with runners on base earlier, but she came through with a big hit there that tied it up,” Fairfield head coach Bob Bradfield said.
Rausch then walked Fairfield sophomore Mackenzie McClure on four pitches to load the bases with nobody out. Fairfield sophomore Karley Williams watched a full count pitch sail high to bring home the winning run on a walk.
“It wasn’t a pretty win by any means to walk in the winning run, but we’ll take it,” Bradfield said.
When Rausch walked home the winning run, it was the only time on the evening that the Trojans led. They had stranded 16 runners on base in the first 13 innings of the twin bill.
“We’d been pushing for that the whole game,” Repp said. “We just couldn’t get that last hit to get the runner in. So it felt pretty good to finally get one in.”
Washington scored a run in the first inning of the second game on Rausch’s infield single. The Trojans loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning of the second game, and they loaded the bases with one out in the second inning, but were unable to score a run.
The Demons scored another run in the third inning when junior Amber Linnekamp grounded out.
Fairfield junior Sydney Burnett had an RBI double in the fourth inning, and McClure hit an RBI single in the fifth to tie the game, but the Demons went back ahead in the seventh on senior Kaitlin Buchholz’s two-out RBI single. That’s when Shrader put her ace, Rausch, back in the pitcher’s circle, hoping to slam the door on Fairfield one last time. But it just didn’t happen that way.
“We should have had two wins there,” Shrader said. “It was nice to get that first win and end their winning streak, but we should have come away with two [wins]. It’s just frustrating.”
Washington jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the opening game. After senior Sammy Ellingson reached on a Fairfield error, Buchholz hit an RBI double and Rausch hit an RBI single.
“We were really fired up,” Rausch said. “We just came here all pumped up. We wanted to win.”
The Demons (13-5, 7-3 SEC) pushed their lead to 4-0 when Erwin hit an RBI double and junior Grace Redlinger hit an RBI single in the top of the sixth inning. But the Trojans answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame on RBI singles by Repp and Williams.
Fairfield (18-4, 7-3 SEC) loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning, but Rausch struck out Repp and got McClure to fly out to centerfield to end the game.
“She got herself out of some jams by coming up with some big strikeouts and forcing them into some pop-ups,” Washington head coach Angie Shrader said of Rausch.
Rausch was pleased with the way she threw the first game.
“I was really confident today,” Rausch said. “Confident in all my pitches. Confident in the way I was throwing. Confident that I could get any batter out. That really, really helps when I’m confident in my pitches because I’m able to throw them the way they’re supposed to be thrown and catch girls off guard.”
But that confidence waned in the seventh inning of the second game.
“My confidence was down,” she said as tears streamed down her face.