Lady Blues bow out after losses to Lady Hornets, Mavericks in regional

Empty gloves Sophomore third baseman Tish Williams and the rest of the Lady Blues are left to think about their season after losing Thursday 5-3 against Emporia State and Friday 4-2 against Minnesota State-Mankato. The losses knocked Washburn out of the NCAA North Central Regional, ending its season.

Eric Smith

Last week at about this time, students were finding out the Washburn Lady Blues softball team had squeaked in with the eighth seed in the NCAA North Central Regional. But after two quick losses Thursday and Friday, its season is now finished.

The Lady Blues lost the first game 5-3 against No. 1-seed Emporia State Thursday at Trussler Sports Complex in Emporia, and errors were mostly to blame. It began in the second inning when the Hornets jumped out to a 4-0 lead, scoring three unearned runs on two Washburn errors.

“It was pretty much just one inning that killed us,” said sophomore third baseman Tish Williams. “We could have beaten Emporia. It was just all of those errors.”

The Lady Blues cut the lead to one run in the fourth to make it 4-3, but they gave it right back with another error and unearned run in the sixth. The Lady Blues threatened with the bases loaded in the seventh, but could not get a timely hit. The Washburn women left six on base and out-hit Emporia State eight to six. Senior Kelly Swygert took the loss, allowing one earned run on six hits.

“It was just those untimely errors,” said Swygert. “We played really well. We had them. We should’ve beaten them 3-1.”

The Washburn women went 0-4 against Emporia State on the year.

Friday’s game was against Minnesota State-Mankato, who the Lady Blues had beaten twice earlier in the season. However, Minnesota State got the best of Washburn, winning 4-2 when it counted and ending Washburn’s season. The Mavericks of MSU jumped out to an early lead after scoring three runs in the first two innings. An error by Washburn in the third led to a solo home run and a 4-0 deficit for the Lady Blues.

The Washburn ladies tried rallying, scoring two in the sixth off a Candi Madill single up the middle. But that was all they could muster.

“Our hitting didn’t go so well. We would hit the ball, we just couldn’t get it out the infield,” said Williams. “We had girls on base, we just couldn’t move them around.”

Swygert received the loss, allowing three earned runs on six hits. She finished 18-12 on the year.

“I think they hit the ball a little better than before, and we didn’t hit the ball as well as we had,” said Swygert.

The Lady Blues finished the season 29-28 and 10-8 in the MIAA. Although they made their second NCAA regional in the last three seasons, they are 0-6 all-time in NCAA postseason play.

“I think eventually we will make it over that hump and win some postseason games,” said Williams.

The Washburn softball team is losing four seniors, including pitcher Swygert, shortstop Brooke DeVader, outfielder Mandy Tarbutton and second baseman Malarie Fellers.

“It’s sad that I’ll never play with them again, but I know no matter what we’ll all be friends,” said Swygert.

Looking ahead to next season, if everyone returns the Lady Blues will have two seniors, nine juniors, two sophomores and any incoming freshmen.

“It’s going to be difficult because we are losing all those good players, but I’m pretty sure we’ll get some good new recruits,” said Williams.