Softball picks up steam with wins
As the regular season draws to a close, building positive momentum becomes even more critical.
The Washington softball team was able to do just that against rival Mt. Pleasant on Thursday night, picking up a pair of victories on the Demons’ senior night.
“They are big wins,” Demon head coach Angie Shrader said. “This is the way we wanted to send our seniors out because without a tournament game at home, this is their last hurrah on the diamond. We played well defensively, hit the ball extremely hard and had great pitching, so we put two complete games together, which is exactly what we needed at this point.”
The first game was a pitcher’s duel as Washington’s Ashley Rausch and Mt. Pleasant’s Shelby Allender combined to only allow seven hits and four walks in the contest.
Rausch managed to snag the upper hand with her two-hitter, and in the sixth inning, Washington was able to score the only run of the first game.
Chayse Jaspering led off the inning with a single, advanced on an error and was driven in by a Grace Redlinger single to take the game 1-0.
Rausch struck out 11 batters in the contest to earn her 10th win of the season.
“In the first game, Rausch is a good pitcher but I still think we should have hit the ball better,” Mt. Pleasant head coach Troy Mears said. “We had two hits and didn’t do near enough on offense. In the second game we got the bases loaded and scored one run out of it and I thought good things were going to happen. Then we went back to the old ways of swinging at the first pitch, popping stuff up, and took us out of our game.”
In game two, the Panthers struck first with a run in the top of the first as Leslie Taylor was driven in on a fielder’s choice by Hattie Liechty.
Washington responded in the bottom of the second inning as Anna Wheeler had a two-out single to score Redlinger to tie things up at 1.
The Demons loaded the bases with the next two batters, and then Jaspering doubled them all home to give Washington a 4-1 lead.
Kolbi Breard picked up an RBI for the Demons in the fourth, driving in Jessie Buchholz on a fielder’s choice to make it 5-1, but the Panthers had a chance to respond.
Jena Stukerjurgen recorded a one-out single, and the Panthers inserted Brianna Shelman as a courtesy runner. Sarah Moffett came to the plate next and doubled Shelman home to make it 5-2.
In the seventh, Amber Linnenkamp shut down the Panthers for the victory.
“They were excited because of the rivalry and then with senior night on top of that, there was a lot going into tonight,” Shrader said. “We are at that point where it is getting closer to tournament time and all along that’s what our team is waiting for, and we are starting to play better softball. It’s still in our sights and we might not be conference champions, but we’ll take a trip to state.”
Despite the pair of losses, the Panthers remain confident heading into the first weekend of postseason play.
“We have the ability,” Mears said. “We’ve seen it throughout the lineup, what they can do when they put it all together. We can’t cash in on the season. We need to make the adjustments (the coaches) are telling them to make, and give us 110 percent every out. If we do that we can compete with about anybody, from what we’ve seen.”
The Demons honored five seniors during the senior night ceremony in between the two games, all of whom have started in key roles this season.
“They probably don’t get as much credit as what our seniors did last year for contributing going to state the last two years, but when you look at these seniors, they were a part of the same program and these are the people that got us there,” Shrader said. “I don’t know if you can put into words what they’ve done, but this year’s group have great team camaraderie, and that’s something behind the scenes that you don’t see a lot.”
Washington will make up a game at Williamsburg tonight at 7 p.m., while Mt. Pleasant will finish its regular season hosting a doubleheader against Fairfield tonight.