Softball season comes to a close with a big win

Douglas McEneaney

After disheartening losses to Ripon last Wednesday, with a score of 1-9 in the first game and 6-7 in the second, the Lawrence University softball team found themselves out of the playoff race. The close-knit group of 12 had four more games to play to finish off the season on a high note. Their remaining opponents were Beloit College and the University of Chicago, both quality teams that gave our ladies a challenge to end the season.
Last Saturday, the Vikings faced Beloit College, a conference opponent also out of contention for the playoff bid. The first game of the double-header did not begin how the Vikings would have liked; after giving up a run in the top of the first, the Vikings were silenced by great pitching and defense for the first four innings.
In the meantime, the Buccaneers had two good innings, scoring three runs in both the top of the third and the top of the fifth. The Vikings tried to climb the ladder, as they have all season, with two homeruns in the fifth and sixth. Junior Hillary Cheever hit the first homerun, breaking the Viking scorecard and freshman Carli Gurholt added a run in the sixth. After cutting the Bucs lead 7-2, the Vikings held Beloit scoreless in the seventh with one more inning to settle the score.
Senior Justine Garbarski led off the inning with a walk and the rally caps were put into action. Before the Bucs could blink, the Vikings had clawed their way to a 7-6 deficit on senior Megan Butterbrodt’s triple, sophomore Alex Goodson’s single and junior Amanda Hauser’s hit. With a runner on third and two outs, the Buccaneers were able to close it out on a close play at first to secure the win. The effort was noticed as the Vikings battled back by scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth, a characteristic of this team from the very beginning of the season.
The second game of the double header was much better for the Vikings. They jumped to an early lead and led 3-0 after the first three innings. The three run lead was enough for the brilliant pitching performance by sophomore Meredith Foshag. She pitched a complete game, allowing two earned runs on four hits and striking out two. Much of the Viking offense in the second game was provided by Gurholt, as she went 3-3 with three RBIs. The Vikings defeated Beloit College 5-3, winning their last conference game of the year.
The season was not over for the Vikings as they hosted the University of Chicago on Sunday. The Vikings once again found themselves in a hole in the beginning of the game. A costly error in the first inning allowed U of C slugger Kathleen Duffy to get a second chance, on which she capitalized by hitting a three-run homerun. The Vikings were held scoreless for the first five innings, as U of C piled on another three runs, increasing their lead to six. The Vikings added three runs in the bottom of the sixth off of two hits and three University of Chicago errors to make the score 6-3. A scoreless top of the seventh gave Lawrence another chance to feasibly come back and win the game.
Senior Carrie Van Groll led off the inning with a walk and the fans immediately felt dej… vu. Goodson and Hauser each singled, both scoring runs, cutting the lead down to one. With two on and two out, Cheever hit a long fly ball to left field that was caught and once again the Vikings fell short, 6-5. The tenacity of the softball team seems unmatched as they consistently climb their way back to a competitive game in the late innings, a desirable trait to many athletic teams.
The Vikings had a much better second game, much to the heroics of Van Groll. Both teams displayed great pitching and defense; both teams were held scoreless for the first four innings. The University of Chicago struck first, scoring two runs in the top of the fifth. The Vikings responded by scoring a run in the bottom of the inning off of Gurholt’s single. The University of Chicago added another two runs in the top of the sixth, giving them a 4-1 lead. The University of Chicago was held scoreless in the bottom of the inning, leaving the Vikings with another chance to come back and win in the bottom of the seventh.
Once again, Garbarski walked to start off the inning. Most times, it is a good sign to get the leadoff runner on base, however, truth be told the Vikings had already done this twice in the past week, coming up empty in both games. Senior Catherine Marinac hit a single, moving Garbarski to third with no outs. With two on and no out, Van Groll strolled to the plate. Realizing this could potentially be her last college at-bat, she knew she had to make it count, so she did. With a long drive to center field, Van Groll hit a three-run homerun, tying the game and giving her Vikings another shot at the win.
The Vikings were held scoreless for the remainder of the inning and the game went on to the eighth. Foshag pitched a great top of the eighth, holding the University of Chicago scoreless and giving the Vikings a chance to come back and win the game, an achievement they waited all year to accomplish. The bottom of the eighth began with two singles by Hauser and Cheever, a promising beginning to the inning. However, the University of Chicago managed to get two outs with no harm done, bringing Van Groll back to the plate.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Van Groll once again found herself in a situation where she could be a Viking hero in her last career at-bat. With a long drive to left field, Van Groll hit a walk-off three-run homerun. The Vikings’ captain hit two three-run homeruns in back-to-back innings, an accomplishment that had never been achieved in Lawrence softball history. Van Groll went 2-4 with three runs scored and six RBI, a monstrous game and arguably the best game on which to have left. Foshag pitched a complete game, allowing one earned run on eight hits in eight innings. The Vikings won the second game 7-4.
With their season coming to an end, the softball team has much to be proud of. With such a small squad, the team played great during such a long, hard season. They battled through injury and finished the season defeating both their last conference opponent and their last opponent. Their reluctance to give up in the end of the game when the score may have seemed out of reach is a characteristic that was shown day in and day out, a characteristic that truly represents what Lawrence softball is about.
We want to personally congratulate the softball team for an exciting year and wish them the best next year. We also want to thank seniors Megan Butterbrodt, Justine Garbarski, Catherine Marinac and Carrie Van Groll on a great last season and wish you the best next year!