Softball looks to stay undefeated at home after away-game wins

Eric Smith

Early in the season, the Washburn Lady Blues softball team faced several nationally-ranked opponents with little success.

However, as the Lady Blues keep their winning ways going they are managing to beat some tougher teams.

The Lady Blues began the week with a doubleheader versus Missouri Southern on Wednesday in Joplin, Mo. They won the first game 6-5 in a nail biter, as nine of the 11 runs scored in the game by the two teams were scored in the last four innings. Leading the way for the Lady Blues offensively, senior Mandy Tarbutton, junior Dani White and sophomore Whitney Tapp each had two hits for the Lady Blues. Tapp and sophomore Candi Madill both drove in two runs as well. Senior pitcher Kelly Swygert gave up eight hits and three earned runs to pick up her 10th win. The win was the team’s 12th in a row.

“Conference wins are huge because winning conference is one of our main goals,” said Swygert. “Every conference game you win helps your regional status.”

The second game of the doubleheader started off badly for the Lady Blues as they were down 4-0 after two innings and 7-0 after four innings. No offensive rallying could make up for those runs as the they fell 10-4. What really killed the Washburn women in this one were the five errors that led to five unearned runs. Sophomore Kayla Long received the loss as she gave up three earned runs in two innings pitched. Sophomore Megan Kimerer came on relief and was the main victim of the errors as she gave up six runs in four innings pitched.

“We just got to go out there and keep telling each other to do the best that we can, and to not give up or anything if they score a couple runs on us,” said sophomore third baseman Tish Williams. “We’re just going to go out there and do our job.”

Saturday proved kind to the Lady Blues as they took part in the Nebraska-Omaha Classic. The first game was against No. 3-ranked Nebraska-Omaha. The first four innings were close, as UNO had a 2-1 lead, but the fifth inning belonged to the Washburn women as they scored six runs on six hits with one error. They batted around as well, sending 10 to the plate in the inning. Senior Brooke DeVader had two doubles in the game with one RBI and one run scored while Tarbutton had two hits and scored three times. Williams got on base four times for the game with two hits, two walks, one run and one RBI. Swygert got the complete game victory allowing four runs and seven hits.

“We were really focused today and played really well as a team,” said Swygert.

Next the Washburn women played

No. 23 Minnesota State-Mankato. This was a rematch from last week when the two teams played in the Missouri Western tournament, which the Lady Blues won 3-2. The second time around went just as well for Washburn as they went up six runs by the fourth inning. The rest of the game was spent holding off the Mavericks. The Lady Blues proved to be successful, winning 6-5. Swygert got another complete game win, allowing six hits and three earned runs and moving to 12-6 overall. The usual crowd helped chip in on offense, including White, who had three RBIs, and Tapp and DeVader, who each had two runs. Senior Malarie Fellars also finished 3 for 4 with an RBI.

“We did a lot of good things today and put a lot of things together,” said Swygert.

The final game of the day for Washburn was against Minnesota-Duluth. It was the easiest contest by far as the Lady Blues won 12-4. The Washburn women set season highs with 18 hits and 12 runs. Every position player had at least one hit. Tapp went 4 for 4 with three runs, while sophomore Jessie Batres went 3 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs. Kimerer picked up her fourth win, striking out five in five innings pitched.

“Our team has gotten a lot better since the beginning of the season, and it’s starting to show,” said Swygert. “We’re playing better as a team.”

The Lady Blues have won 15 of their last 16 and are now 20-16 overall and 3-1 in the MIAA.

“Our coach is pretty excited about how we’re doing and has confidence in our ability to keep it going,” said Swygert.

The softball team’s next games are this weekend, with a doubleheader against Truman State at 1 p.m. Friday and a doubleheader against Central Missouri at 1 p.m. Saturday.