Wade with a little bit of offense dash Hope: Sport Shorts 4/25/06

By Sean Ahmed

Their chances may be slim, but a pair of near-perfect performances Saturday is giving softball a widening window of postseason hope.

Without the tools to match the Flying Dutch (21–11) blow-for-blow offensively, the Maroons (16–10) took the wind out of the visitor’s sails with two airtight all-around performances for a 2–0, 3–0 doubleheader sweep Saturday. Third-year righty Petra Wade (15–4, 1.13 ERA) threw her third and fourth complete games in four days to earn both decisions. Her batterymate second-year Vanessa Pineros scored or drove in each of the team’s five runs on the day, reaching base six times.

The weekend wipeout took a gutsy performance by the Maroons’ junior ace, who entered the game with a 0–3 career mark against the high-powered Hope program. Pitching on two days’ rest after hurling all 14 innings in Wednesday’s split, Wade mowed through the Flying Dutch lineup with a dominating mix of risers and curveballs.

The blend was working well for Wade. She kept Hope’s big three totally in check, limiting the heart of the lineup to a combined 3-for-15 with 4 strikeouts. Opposing sluggers fourth-year Emily Adams and second-years Jessica Regnerus and Kylee Brouwer each entered the game with baseball-like offensive stats, hitting over .400 and 29 extra-base hits between them.

“What definitely made her effective was her riseball,” said Pineros, who caught every pitch Saturday and was Wade’s personal backstop last season. “She kept getting them to pop up—they couldn’t get anything on the ground. And she had her curveball working, which the first ump didn’t give her, but the second was calling them.

“What makes her so effective is how she can keep batters off balance so well with pitches breaking in both directions and off-speed too.”

But it was perhaps the early lead that meant the most to the increasingly-strong pitcher, as it allowed her to challenge those big bats without worrying that a single hit could change the game. In the front end, the Maroons scored a run with two outs in each of the first two innings to build their final margin. Second-year left fielder Dominique Marshall drove home Pineros with a single to right center in the first frame, and the lefty receiver smacked an opposite-field double in the second to score third-year shortstop Jessica Mayhew all the way from first.

The capper was deadlocked through two-and-a-half innings, but the Maroons broke things open in the third inning with two runs thanks to a Pineros RBI single that brought home Mayhew and a center field error that allowed the catcher to score. In the fourth inning, Pineros’s single through the right side Wade scored the Maroons’ third and final run. With the ace still cruising, the Hope defense making lazy errors left and right, and Flying Dutch popping up on first pitches, Chicago easily completed the whitewash.

”It’s definitely the best we’ve worked as a team all year,” Pineros said. “In terms of hitting or defense, we definitely did well in Florida, but those teams weren’t as good. This is the best effort we’ve put together against a good team.”

Though Hope is not actually in Chicago’s Great Lakes region, the games do count in the regional win-loss column because of the teams’ proximity and the Maroons’ independent status. The team certainly needs the boost, as it can afford no more than one more defeat down the stretch if it intends to participate in posteason play. Their run for the tourney begins this afternoon with Wade toeing the rubber again at Aurora (29–5) for two.