Blues set records, struggle to get wins

Sheldon Warmington

For the Washburn Lady Blues softball team, the last two weeks have proved to be filled with record breaking feats, further propelling the program into arguably the best it has been since its conception.

There were milestones reached and conquered, streaks that ended and individual performances that have been obliterated.

The famed “two weeks of wonder” for the Blues, however inspiring and monumental, came at a price for the ladies, and that price was in the losses to teams which the Lady Blues needed to beat in order to place with a respectable seed in post season play.

On April 11 Washburn swept out-of-state rivals Missouri Southern, taking both games 5-2 and 6-3 respectively. The win was the first outright sweep of an opponent for the Blues this season. Despite being a huge accomplishment for the team, it was head coach Lisa Carey who stole the spotlight.

With the pair of wins, Carey became Washburn’s winningest coach as her total moved to 210, passing Kim Newbern, who tallied an impressive 209 wins.

“Coach is very easy to talk to about the game and school and whatever you need [help] with,” said freshman Lindsey Himpel. “She is the first to help player[s] with their game … She deserves the accolades she has managed to accomplish.”

Washburn’s next showdown was supposed to be against a talented Southwest Baptist team. However the game, which was scheduled for the April 15, was moved back one day.

As the Blues went up against the Bearcats, the crowd seemed poised to witness yet another slew of individual performances and the ladies in familiar fashion wouldn’t disappoint.

Washburn lost the opener 4-3 and won the second 1-0, but on the very first score of the night, Tish Williams recorded her 16th home run of the season, tying her own single-season record at Washburn.

As if that was not enough, the second game saw a battle of epic proportions as Washburn’s Kayla Long and SBU’s Josie Rose kept their respective opposing teams at bay by not allowing a hit for five innings. The shutout lasted until SBU’s McKenzie Mortimer recorded the first hit of the night at the top of the sixth.

On April 18, Washburn faced the Jennies of Central Missouri. The overall outcome was less than favorable as the Blues were swept 5-1 in the first game and 9-3 in the second.

Despite the shutout, Tish Williams made sure the day’s events were not all in vain.

In the first game with just a single shot, Tish broke her own single season home run record, marking her 17th of the season. The shot also marked her 52nd run of the season which tied Kristen Cheney who achieved the mark in 2002.

To add insult to injury, that very same shot from Williams snapped Megan Leonard of Central’s streak of consecutive shutout inning streak at 83.2 innings, which tied for the longest in NCAA Division II history.

Washburn’s rival Emporia State was up next on the schedule. The Lady Blues needed a win or split to remain in contention. Despite the Lady Blues’ best efforts, however, the games were lopsided and the Lady Blues went down 4-1 in the first game and 8-0 in the second.

Washburn attempted to make amends for their four-game slide when they took on Fort Hays on Saturday. In what turned out to a be a weather-shortened series Washburn was able to beat Fort Hays 11-8 and 2-1 respectively.

With the pair of wins, Washburn currently stands 22-29 overall and 9-11 in MIAA play. Washburn will conclude its regular season on Tuesday when it faces Missouri Western in a non conference double header at home.

“Going into postseason play, we need to focus on getting better every game and concentrate on getting the little things under our control so that we can make a run,” said Himpel. She said she was disappointed with the level of talent that Washburn had this year and that they weren’t able to put some more wins together. She said she remains confident that going into the postseason the Blues may find their resolve and get a couple of quality wins.