Blues bounce back, win five of seven

Eric Smith

Bethany, Pittsburg State, Drury and Missouri Science and Technology. These four schools have one thing in common: Last week, they were all handed losses by the Washburn Lady Blues softball team.

Washburn went 5-2 last week, beginning Tuesday in Topeka at the Washburn Softball Complex, as they trounced Bethany College 7-2 and 8-0 in six innings.

In their first home games of the year, Washburn took full advantage, smacking 13 hits in each game. Leading the charge offensively, senior first baseman Dani White went a combined 6-for-7 with six RBIs, while juniors Tish Williams and Ashley Podschun each had four hits.

“They were definitely the confidence booster we needed,” said White. “We’ve had trouble getting wins in the wins column so it was just kind of the first step we needed.”

Samantha Farris, freshman, earned the win in the first game, going six innings while allowing 10 hits and two earned runs. Kayla Long, junior, picked up the second victory, going five innings and allowing just one hit and zero earned runs.

The Lady Blues were in Joplin, Mo., Friday and Saturday as part of the Missouri Southern/Teri Mathis Memorial Tournament.

Washburn lost the opening game to the defending NAIA National Champions Oklahoma City 6-4 after an untimely error cost the Lady Blues four unearned runs. Washburn also stranded seven runners and allowed runs in the final two innings to break open the 4-4 tie and waste their early 2-0 lead.

The Lady Blues got back on track against Pittsburg State, winning 6-3 thanks to a 3-run fourth inning and a complete game, three earned run performance by Long. Offensively, Podschun and Whitney Tapp led the way with three hits apiece.

“I would say the game against Pittsburg State was the most important because it was against a conference team,” said White. “And you always want to beat conference teams whether you’re in conference play or in a tournament.”

Washburn’s Friday nightcap was a 12-5 shellacking of Drury that began with a rally after falling behind 3-1 in the first inning. Williams went 4-for-5 scoring four runs and earning 5 RBIs. Megan Kimerer, a junior pitcher, earned the win.

“I think when we were playing against all the other teams, no matter what happened, we didn’t back down, we kept battling,” said Williams.

On Saturday, the Lady Blues went 1-1, winning the early game versus Missouri Science and Technology 1-0 before losing to Cameron 6-4 in the final game of the tournament.

In the first game, the Lady Blues scored the only run in the first inning after Williams doubled and Podschun singled her in. Farris picked up the win, throwing a complete game two-hit shutout while striking out four.

“It was a close game the entire time,” said White. “Both teams had runners on a lot of the innings but both teams just managed to get out of it by pitching and defense.”

Against Cameron, the Lady Blues stranded eight base runners. One bright spot was the offensive play of Lindsey Himpel, who had three hits and scored three runs.

“I think when we lose, we think too much about what’s going to happen next,” said Williams. “And when we go up to bat, we over think our swings. Basically, we need to go up there with an open mind and just play the game.”

Since beginning the season 0-8, the Lady Blues have rebounded well, now sitting at 9-15. They will play next at 3 p.m. Wednesday at home against Benedictine in a double-header.

“I think we need to come out and get the two-game win. And take it into the ESU tournament for the following weekend because that’s a big tournament,” said White. “A lot of good teams are there and we need to make our presence felt.”

Beginning Friday at 2:30 p.m., as part of the Emporia State Spring Tournament, Washburn will play Truman State. The Lady Blues will then finish the day off with a 5 p.m. game against Tarleton. The tournament continues for Washburn at 4 p.m. Saturday against Nebraska-Omaha, followed by a 6 p.m. contest against Augustana. Southwestern Oklahoma State will be the final ESU tournament opponent for the Lady Blues when they play at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.