Softball hitters stutter in winless weekend
Before the weekend, head coach Ruth Kmak described the Illinois Wesleyan University Invitational as the team’s biggest test of the year. The 12th-ranked Maroons knew that they would be facing four teams with winning records, including 3rd-ranked Washington University of St. Louis, in a number of close battles.
Yet being swept for their fifth straight loss came as a total surprise.
The biggest problem for Chicago (24-9) came with the offense, which only scored three runs on 19 hits. All of their runs came in the first game against Hope (15-13). First-year Petra Wade took the loss, giving up three runs, one earned, in three innings pitched. The Maroons made four errors on defense to lose the season series against Hope two games to one.
Second-year Hannah Roberts pitched the entirety of the final three games but suffered a 1-0 loss in each of the efforts. Against Washington (30-1), she gave up only two hits and struck out seven.
The costly play of the game came after Bears’ designated player Leslie Meyer walked to lead off the bottom of the fifth. She scored when both Roberts and third-year second baseman Julie Wiorkowski made errors on the next hitter’s sacrifice bunt attempt. The run ended Roberts’s scoreless innings streak at 62.1, the fifth-longest in NCAA Division III history.
The Maroons managed to get a runner on with one out in the seventh, but a strikeout and groundout ended the game.
Each of the next two losses came in extra-inning games, which were played under special rules. After seven complete innings, the last batter out would be placed on second base.
In game three, Chicago stranded their runner at third in the top of the eighth, and Fontbonne (23-11) followed with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning for the win.
Against Maryville (18-13), Roberts struck out an amazing 17 batters in her second game of the day. The offense, however, left nine runners on base and failed to get any support for its pitcher again. First-year Laurin Fabry was thrown out at home in the bottom of the eighth on a groundball to the third baseman, and Maryville followed with a two-out RBI single in the ninth.
In late action on Monday, softball broke its losing streak with a 5-3 win against Aurora (22-8-1) before losing in the bottom of the ninth of the second game 1-0.
Despite the three losses she suffered over the weekend, Roberts’ three runs allowed were all unearned. She got the win on Monday and is now 15-4 with a 0.11 ERA.
The team’s season finale is on Thursday at home against Lake Forest.
Tennis teams head to UAA Championships
In the final action before they travel to Rochester, New York for UAA Championships, men’s tennis went 2-1 on the weekend. The wins came against weaker opponents St. Francis (5-14) and Knox (4-12) before the loss to dominant Illinois Wesleyan (15-4).
The team’s new recruits continued to have solid performances. On Friday against St. Francis, first-year Vivek Venkataraman came back from a one- set deficit to win in the first singles position. After losing the first set 6-7 (5-7), he won the second set 6-3 and the match tiebreaker 11-9. The comeback victory showed a lot of growth in the first-year’s play and resilience.
First-year Stephane Levy also scored a singles victory.
The men beat St. Francis 5-2, partly thanks to two forfeits by the undermanned opponent.
Against Knox, Chicago earned a win in each of its nine matches with all but one coming in straight sets.
The stronger Illinois Wesleyan team was able to defeat the Maroons easily, but the first-years again performed well. Venkataraman and Levy each won in straight-set single matches. Levy now holds the team’s best singles record at 14-5. The doubles teams continued to struggle, as they were swept in all three matches.
The women’s match on Sunday against Alma College was cancelled due to rain, leaving them at 9-9 going into conference championships. The men are 7-14.