The LU softball team’s season ended over the weekend after losses to Lake Forest and Monmouth in the Midwest Conference (MWC) Tournament. Being the second consecutive MWC Tournament appearance for the Vikings, the team believed they had the experience to go far. Unfortunately for the Vikings, their first matchup was with Lake Forest, who entered 6-1 in conference play and had defeated the Vikings 4-2 earlier in the season.
The Foresters rolled to an 8-0 defeat over the Vikings on the shoulders of home runs from Alex Hemmer and Tara Airola. The Vikings managed only one hit and committed three errors in the game. “Lake Forest out-hit us and we didn’t play good enough defense to win”, said freshman second baseman Marisa Thackston. “After they kept hitting, the energy in the dugout and on the field went down.” Jessi Werner picked up the win for the Foresters, while Kara Vance took the loss.
However, the weekend did not end there for the Vikings. Their next matchup was a single-elimination match against Monmouth, who beat the Vikes 11-1 earlier in the season and entered with a 6-2 record in conference. Knowing that a loss would end their season, the Vikings surged to a 6-1 lead over the Scots up until the 6th inning.
The team was encouraged by senior Alex Chiodo’s first collegiate homerun, which came in the 2nd inning. “When I took that swing I had no idea that it was going to be a home run,” said Chiodo. “It wasn’t until I was half way to second that I realized it went over. All I remember was my coach saying, ‘Enjoy it’.”
In the top of the 7th, the Scots strung together four hits and took a 7-6 lead. The go-ahead run came after Caitlin Lingle hit a fly ball to center field, allowing the runner at third to tag up and score. Then Taylor Smith mowed down three straight Viking hitters in the bottom of the 7th to end the Viking’s season.
The team was disappointed by the outcome, but are looking forward to the future. “The losses were pretty hard to take. We had high expectations that weekend and we just fell short,” continued Chiodo.
The team will lose seniors Cory Paquette, Alissa Geipel, Mary Diduch and Chiodo. However, they hope to use the experience gained in the MWC tournament to improve for next season.