Softball breaks out brooms: six weekend victories give Maroons 12 straight

By Sean Ahmed

The games keep coming, but softball continues to roll right through them.

The 20th-ranked Maroons (16-1) swept three consecutive doubleheaders over the weekend, relying on their usual dominant pitching and timely hitting to defeat Wheaton, North Central, and Illinois Wesleyan. The team’s three pitchers—currently sporting a 0.60 ERA—gave up only 23 hits, four runs, and five walks while striking out 45 in over 40 innings. Chicago, likely to climb several spots in Wednesday’s new poll, extended its winning streak to 12 games.

Leading off the weekend against Wheaton (10-7), the Maroons played two entirely different games, winning a nail-biter 1-0 in the first game before blowing out the Thunder 8-0 in five innings to end the day.

Third-year centerfielder Kara Thaw’s two-out single to center in the bottom of the fourth plated first-year leftfielder Dominique Marshall for the game’s first and only run. Third-year ace Hannah Roberts took care of things the rest of the way, striking out 10 in a two-hit performance.

Second-year pitcher Petra Wade threw five innings of one-hit ball in the nightcap, striking out six to improve her record to 4-1 on the year. She also added four RBI on three-for-three hitting in the Chicago trouncing. Third-year third baseman Kayti Fuhr also starred for the lineup, going two-for-three with a run driven in and three runs scored. Fuhr broke open the scoring in the first, stroking a double, stealing third, and scoring on the catcher’s errant throw to third base.

The women hit the road Saturday, facing off against North Central in Naperville. The Cardinals wished they hadn’t, as the Maroons pulled out both games with offensive blows in the top of the seventh.

Roberts struck out 10 in seven innings of two-hit ball in the first, and helped her own cause by getting on base ahead of fourth-year second baseman Julie Wiorkowski with the score knotted at zero in the seventh. With one out, Wiorkowski singled her home for the 1-0 lead and the win, and Roberts shut down North Central to end the game.

In the second game, Cardinals fourth-year second baseman Dana Litchfield knocked in fourth-year first baseman Jackie Kay in the third, but Wade delivered another solid pitching performance and shut them down the rest of the way. The Maroons were two outs from defeat when Wiorkowski struck again, singling in Marshall for the tie. Third-year catcher/DH Randi Leppla then came through with a three-run double for the win.

After back-to-back comeback victories, the Maroons hoped to settle things early in Sunday’s home double-header against Illinois Wesleyan (11-6).

After fourth-year second baseman Julie Wiorkowski scored on an error by the second baseman, third-year first baseman Rachel Cohen wrapped things up by lacing a two-run homer to left, her first of the year. Those three runs were all the Maroons would need, as Roberts (10-0) made the right pitches in the clutch, stranding seven Titans on base and only giving up a homer to Wesleyan fourth-year third baseman Colleen Schuster in the sixth, her first run allowed in 55 innings. Roberts struck out 14 Titans on the day in the 3-1 win.

Things didn’t go quite as smoothly in the second game, as Deck doubled in a run for the Titans with two outs in the first. Cohen had a two-run single in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for Chicago, but Illinois Wesleyan came back as third-year first baseman Katie Frawley hit her first homer of the season to lead off the second. Fuhr and Marshall hit back-to-back doubles with one out in the bottom of the third to take the 3-2 lead, with two more solid innings by second-year righty Wade (6-1), the starter, and a two-inning save from second-year lefty Lauren Hula, her first of the season.

The Maroons host Calvin (10-4) in a 3 p.m. doubleheader Friday.