SPORTS

  /  

April 15, 2003

Pitchers dominate opposition as softball takes weekend games

The softball team had a packed schedule this weekend with a doubleheader at Wheaton on Friday, a triangular invitational at North Central on Saturday, and a doubleheader against Illinois- Wesleyan at home on Sunday. The team won four of those games and increased its overall record to 10?7.

?We went 4?2 playing six games in three days. While it would have been great to go 6?0, the team played really well,? said head coach Ruth Kmak. ?In our losses, we simply didn?t take advantage when we got runners on the base.?

First-year outfielder Kara Thaw added, ?It was important to play well this weekend because we showed ourselves that we are capable of accomplishing so much.? Thaw, who made some great plays and was strong at the plate, continued, ?These games came at an important time in the season. Things are coming together, and we are really starting to play well.?

The team opened up the weekend with a solid showing against Wheaton. The women won the opener 4?1 and pulled out a 2?1 extra innings victory in the nightcap.

Next up was the triangular invitational on Saturday at North Central where Chicago played North Park and North Central. Chicago won the opener against North Park 10?5 which, while a sweeping victory on paper, was not actually so glamorous. North Park held an early lead 4?0 until the third inning when Chicago tied them and then pulled ahead in the fifth. The game was indicative of some problems that have plagued the team in the early part of their season: sloppy starts and lackluster efforts against weaker teams. Nonetheless, the Maroons? potential remains great, and hard work during practice is expected to produce a significant improvement as the season rolls on.

?I feel confident that we can beat anyone,? Thaw said. ?I think most people feel that way.?

The loss in the nightcap against North Central, while disappointing, was still an admirable effort against a very strong team. ?We out hit North Central almost 3?1, but just didn?t get the hits in a timely manner,? said Kmak.

The real unfolding of the weekend came on Sunday in the doubleheader against Wesleyan, a formidable foe that had only lost two of its 23 games before facing Chicago.

?The first game shows our potential. It shows how well we can do when everybody is working together and doing their part,? said second-year second baseman Julie Wiorkowski. ?Even the second game does?we took them to nine innings.?

The team was well focused during both games, taking the opener 2?0 and falling in the nightcap 0?1 in a dramatic ninth inning. Chicago nearly tied the game with a double from second-year catcher Annie Yaniga with Thaw on base, but the Illinois-Wesleyan defense pulled off a heroic play at the plate, gunning down Thaw to end the game.

The win in the opener, however, was equally important. Chicago played well both offensively and defensively, with solid hitting and errors kept to a minimum.

?[First-year infleider] Kayti [Fuhr]?s [winning] catch was a perfect ending for the first game,? said fourth-year shortstop Cristina Metildi.

Pitching was the highlight of the day (and probably the entire weekend), with first-year ace Hannah Roberts fanning 11 batters in game one and fourth-year starter and captain Meghan Kunz pitching solidly and consistently in game two. For Kunz it was her second nine-inning game of weekend. ?[Roberts] had good movement on the ball?she kept them guessing. Both Hannah and Megan were able to figure out Wesleyan?s first hitter?s weakness?that was very good for us,? Metildi said.

?I do feel like we?re in a good place. We are 10?7 and in position to pick up a couple of doubleheader sweeps this week if we can play to our potential,? Kmak said. ?One statistic worth mentioning is our stolen bases. Last year in 36 games we had a total of 32 stolen bases in 53 attempts. This year in only 17 games so far, we already have 34 stolen bases in 44 attempts. This reveals our more aggressive style of offensive play.?

The softball team?s next installments are a doubleheader today at Elmhurst and a home twinbill on Thursday against UW?Oshkosh. The team is optimistic about the coming games, and the early prospects for qualifying for regionals are encouraging.