Softball team off to a strong start

Stephen Exarhos

The women of the Lawrence University softball team have gotten off to a flying start in the first 11 games of their season.
They started over spring break with a trip to Clermont, Florida, where they had the opportunity to play some tough opponents as well as some not-quite-as-tough competition.
Their season opener in Florida has proven to have been a sign of things to come, as they flexed their muscles and powered their way to an 8-3 victory over D’Youville College of Buffalo, New York.
Lawrence grabbed a total of 11 hits, highlighted by home runs from junior Carli Gurholt and freshman Cathy Kaye. On the defensive side, freshman pitcher Shannon Murray showed incredible poise on the mound, taking a no-hitter through five innings in her first collegiate game. Sophomore Katie Simonsen also hit a Lawrence-record two triples while Gurholt drove in an impressive three runs.
Murray also started the next game against Southern Maine University and managed to improve on her already-impressive first performance by pitching a four-hit shutout.
Gurholt also improved on her debut, this time driving in five runs on two hits including a three-run homer in the sixth inning. The final score was 10-0 in favor of Lawrence.
Murray gave way to sophomore Emily Perish in the next game against Kalamazoo College, but the end result did not change for Lawrence.
Perish gave up only two hits in a shutout and she even donated two RBIs to the offensive performance. The team ended with 13 runs on 14 hits, led by the game-high three RBIs of sophomore Ellen French. The final score was 13-0, giving the Vikings their third blowout win in their first three games.
Colby College was the next team to be blown out by Lawrence, as they fell 10-2 after another strong performance on both the offensive and defensive ends by the Vikings.
Perish had the mound and gave up just three hits, while Kaye, Murray, and senior Alex Goodson each drove in two runs.
The next stretch of games proved to be tougher, as the Vikings lost three of four.
They were first defeated by Union College of New York, who needed a three-run sixth inning to get past the plucky Vikings, leaving the final score at 9-6.
The Vikings briefly recovered their old form with a 9-2 thumping of Carleton College in which Kaye went 4-5 at the plate and Gurholt added another three RBIs.
However, the team dropped the next two games to nationally seventh-ranked Luther College – by an unsettling score of 15-0 – and Elmhurst College by a tight 5-4 margin.
The Vikings quickly found their game again in time to defeat Buffalo State College 4-2 in their final game in Florida. Gurholt led the team with another homer and another two RBIs. Murray pitched six innings and Perish pitched a three-up-three-down seventh inning to preserve the win.
The Vikings next faced Alverno College in a doubleheader on April Fools’ Day at Whiting Field across the river.
The first of the two games proved to be quite momentous.
Coach Kim Tatro coached her 500th game as a Viking and won 1-0 due to a walk-off home run by freshman Dani Cherry, the first of her collegiate career, in the bottom of the seventh inning. Perish pitched a complete game, giving up only two hits.
Maybe even more exciting was the fact that Murray pitched only the second no-hitter in the history of Lawrence softball in the second game of the double header, as Lawrence’s bats came to life in a 10-0 romp.
Goodson and freshman Gaelen Lombard-Knapp each drove in three runs and a high-performing Murray drove in two more.
Lawrence (8-3, 0-0 MWC) next takes the field this weekend, when it starts Midwest Conference play in the MWC Classic in Janesville, Wisc. They will face Illinois College, Lake Forest, Monmouth, Grinnell and Knox.