In this week’s games, the Lawrence softball team stepped forward to split their doubleheader with St. Norbert College and sweep Carroll University.
Lawrence struggled in their opener against the St. Norbert Green Knights with an 8-0 loss, but won the nightcap 4-3. “The first game got away from us, as we let a few mental errors take the game from us. In the second game we came back as a team and pulled it out,” said Cathy Kaye.
In the nightcap, St. Norbert was the first to score and managed three runs in the fourth, but Lawrence’s catcher Gaelen Lombard-Knapp did not allow the Green Knights to lead for long. With Shannon Murray and Emily Perish on base, Lombard-Knapp blasted a three-run homer to tie the game 3-3.
In the fifth, the Vikings took the lead. Katie Simonsen doubled down the left field line, advanced to third off of Kaye’s sacrificed bunt, and was brought home by Alissa Geipel’s single to right field.
During the seventh, it looked as if the Green Knights had a chance to tie it up, but the Vikings worked together to pull off a big play. With one out and a runner on third, a ground ball was hit to Cory Paquette at shortstop, who threw it home to Lombard-Knapp for the tag. Meanwhile, the batter was on her way to second when Lombard-Knapp fired the ball to Mary Diduch at second, and Diduch got the game-winning tag. “We had a few people playing out of position who stepped up and ended up making what I consider the biggest play,” said Kaye.
The split against St. Norbert allowed the Vikings to stay in the running for the Midwest Conference Tournament. “We have been on a roll ever since. It seems like we have a whole new season coming on,” said Carli Gurholt.
The win gave the team hope in their goal of reaching the tournament and fueled them in their games against Carroll. Perish said, “The game we won against Norbert was really the catalyst for our wins against Carroll. We finally played about to our potential and everyone was in it and believed in the team. That feeling carried into Sunday’s games — both went into extra innings, but we were able to finish. That’s not to say we played perfectly, but losing wasn’t an option and you could see that attitude throughout both games.”
The Vikings swept the Carroll Pioneers Sunday by 5-4 and 3-2, both in extra innings, “but it didn’t frazzle any of us, we kept playing like we always did,” said Gurholt.
Lawrence scored once during the fourth when Gurholt was walked, reached second off of Murray’s single and scored from a fielding error, but the Vikings were down 4-1 in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Kaye singled to center field, followed by Geipel’s single up the middle. Kaye stole third and a fielding error by the third baseman allowed her to score and for Geipel to reach third. Gurholt was then hit by a pitch and stole second, followed by a two-run single to right field by Murray to tie the game at 4-4.
The game went into extra innings, but Lawrence managed to score in the ninth. Kaye hit a triple and then Geipel hit a game winning single to left field to bring Kaye home, leaving the score at 5-4.
In the nightcap, Lawrence took a 2-0 lead with runs in the second and third innings. For the first run, Murray singled through the left side, advanced to second off of Perish’s sacrificed bunt and was hit home by Lombard-Knapp’s double to left center. The second run was from Gurholt’s groundout to first base to score Kaye.
The Pioneers came back in the sixth to tie the game at 2-2 and the game went into extra innings, but Lawrence won the game in the bottom of the eighth. Alex Chiodo singled to left-center to drive Perish home for the game-winning run.
Chiodo, Kaye, and Lombard-Knapp all had two hits in the nightcap.
As the last home games of the season, the players had a lot to say. “Everybody contributed and made the plays they had to, to get the wins. It was great that our last games on our field were wins and we could send Carli, our senior, off right,” said Kaye. “All in all, the games showed us how well we can play when we are focused and confident,” said Perish. “We’ve definitely put up a fight at the end of our season,” said Chiodo.
Lombard-Knapp said, “Sweeping Carroll and beating Norbs was probably the best thing our team has done all season. Those three games alone brought us so much closer as teammates and as friends. The energy we had in those games radiated from every single player. It was amazing to see us all rise to our full potential and play the game we know how to play best.”
Diduch said, “After playing St. Norbert and Carroll, it finally felt like everything was coming together for us as a team. With the sweep against Carroll, it was awesome to finally get a sweep in the conference run. Taking St. Norbert down in a game was great for us just knowing the success they have had in the past. Hopefully we can take the momentum from these two match-ups and use it against Ripon for the upcoming doubleheader.”
The Vikings’ games against Ripon from Monday, May 2 will be covered in the next issue of The Lawrentian, and will determine if the team will make it to the MWC Tournament.