Softball takes two conference losses -mts -cd

Douglas McEneaney

In the heat of a conference race, the Lawrence University women’s softball team sits in fourth place after two tough losses to St. Norbert College, who after its latest wins, clinched a playoff berth.
Wednesday, Apr. 16 our ladies headed north to St. Norbert College, last year’s Midwest conference champion.
The Green Knights of St. Norbert jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Despite the two run first inning, the Vikings held tough and no runs were scored until the top of the fifth when senior Carrie Van Groll singled and was driven home to score on sophomore Alex Goodson’s double.
St. Norbert could not respond in the bottom of the inning due to great pitching and defense, giving our Vikings another attempt at cutting the lead. In the top of the sixth, the Vikings were down 2-1 until junior Hillary Cheever hit her first career homerun, tying the game and sending a message to the Green Knights that the Vikings wanted this game.
However, two errors in the bottom of the sixth allowed the Green Knights to take the lead 3-2. The Vikings went into the top of the seventh and scored another run, as Van Groll was driven in this time by junior Amanda Hauser.
The Vikings continued the seesaw scoring as the game was tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the seventh. St. Norbert’s leadoff hitter reached first base on a controversial catcher’s interference call and ended up scoring on a single to give the Green Knights the win.
The Vikings out-hit the Green Knights 11 to 7 but solid defense allowed the Green Knights to steal the first game from our Vikings.
Van Groll went 3-4 and scored 2 runs while junior Megan Butterbrodt and Cheever each had two hits. Senior Catherine Marinac pitched a great game, going all seven innings, allowing seven hits, no walks, and two earned runs.
The Vikings approached the next game with a vengeance as they needed to split against St. Norbert for conference security.
The Vikings scored first in the second inning off Hauser’s double that brought Goodson home. The Vikings continued to play solid defense, holding the Green Knights scoreless until the fifth inning. The Green Knights’ bats suddenly woke up in the fifth as they had five hits scoring five runs.
Down 5-2, the Vikings once again could have folded up shop. But they did not. The trend of fighting back has been evident all season as the Vikings scored another run in the bottom of the fifth on senior Justine Garbarski’s single.
Within breathing distance, the Green Knights once again woke up their bats in the top of the sixth as they scored 4 runs on 3 hits. Defense once again hurt the Vikings as they gave up four errors in the second game, three of which came in the top of the sixth. The Vikings were held scoreless for the remainder of the game and lost 9-2.
The score certainly displays an injustice as the Vikings fought for a majority of the game. Hauser and Garbarski each had a pair of hits for the Vikings and sophomore Meredith Foshag pitched a great game despite the lack of offensive help.
The Vikings, coming off two huge conference losses, sought revenge over their next opponent, which was Finlandia University. Although a non-conference opponent, wins over Finlandia would lessen the gap to be an above .500 team.
Both teams played solid defense as there was no score up until the bottom of the fourth. Van Groll broke the 0-0 score from Hauser’s double. The Vikings added another three runs in the sixth of a Butterbrodt single and a homerun by Goodson. The Vikings, with a commanding 4-0 lead, coasted with the win, 4-2.
Marinac pitched amazingly as she allowed one earned run on four hits in seven innings while striking out an impressive 10 batters! The Vikings only had four hits as well but the Vikes’ hits went farther.
In the second game of the double header, the Viking ladies took no prisoners. Despite giving up the first run of the game, the Vikings fired back scoring three runs in the third and four runs in both the fourth and the fifth, causing the game to end short off slaughter rule.
Foshag pitched a brilliant game as well, allowing no earned runs on six hits in five innings of play. Cheever continued her great week going 4-4 with four RBIs and Van Groll went 3-4 with two runs scored and a solo homerun.
The Vikings, now 6-12, have six more games to play. Winning out is optimal as it will give them a respectable .500. The Vikings are going to have to do this without .327 hitter Jenna Reichel, who is currently enjoying herself in the Cayman Islands for marine term.
The Vikings have conference opponents Ripon and Beloit Colleges left to play, which are must-wins to have hope for the playoffs.