Lady Blues split games Saturday in Illinois

Eric Smith

The Washburn Lady Blues softball team has had some tough competition so far in their short season. This weekend wasn’t any easier as they took part in the Cougar Classic hosted by the reigning NCAA national champions Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

The Lady Blues began the tournament Saturday morning with a 1-0 win vs. Missouri-St. Louis. Sophomore third baseman Tish Williams scored the only run of the game for Washburn with a solo home run in the top of the seventh. That was also the only hit by the Lady Blues as they were retired in order for the first 18 batters.

“Even though we didn’t have that many hits, we hit the ball well. We hit it right at people,” said senior short stop Brooke DeVader. “Tish’s home run was obviously huge.”

Senior pitcher Kelly Swygert, moving to 3-4 on the season, got the win for Washburn, giving up only four hits in seven innings and striking out three.

“As a team, we did a lot better. We were hitting the ball a lot better,” said Swygert. “Our defense was good. And personally, I pitched pretty well today.”

The Lady Blues played the host team SIU-Edwardsville later in the day Saturday and lost 8-5. The Washburn softball team was down 7-1 through four innings to the 2007 softball national champs but rallied late to make it a game. Tish Williams’ three-run home run in the fifth, her second of the day, put the Lady Blues within three runs with a score of 7-4. But SIU-Edwardsville tacked one on in the sixth. And in the seventh, all the Lady Blues could muster up was one as junior first baseman Dani White knocked in sophomore catcher Whitney Tapp.

“Dani White was huge today. She went 3 for 4,” said DeVader. “The offense, in general, really came out of its shell and really did good today.”

The Lady Blues’ 13 hits were actually more than the Cougars had with 12. Sophomore pitcher Kayla Long, now 0-5, took the loss giving up four earned runs and five hits in less than three innings of work. Swygert came in relief and pitched over four innings giving up only two earned runs.

Although the Washburn women split the first day of tournament play, they were still optimistic of how they played considering their loss was against the defending national champions at their field.

“We played really well today. The bats finally came out,” said DeVader. “We had pitching and everything was good. I think we’re back into the swing of things.”

The Lady Blues softball team will have its next game 2 p.m. Thursday March 6 at Pittsburg State. It’s a nonconference doubleheader that was rescheduled from Feb. 22 when the game was postponed because of weather.

The following day, beginning at 9 a.m. March 7, the Lady Blues will be in Joplin, Mo. for the Missouri Southern Tournament.