April 24, 2009

Maroons cut down Lake Forest, but fortunes reversed in second game

The six-game losing streak is over for softball, but a team that started the season 10–4 is still without a perfect day in over two weeks.On Tuesday, women’s softball traveled to Lake Forest to play a doubleheader, and both teams settled with a win and a loss. The Maroons were dominant as they won 12–4 in the first game, but then Lake Forest took the second 9–5. The first game was crucial for the Maroons, as it snapped a six-game losing skid. The offense sparked the turnaround by posting 15 hits, and the game ended early on the mercy rule with Chicago up 12–4 after five innings. First-year outfielder/infielder Julia Schneider had three hits for as many at bats, with three RBIs and a home run to boot (Schneider homered in both games, and ended the day 5–5 at the plate). Third-year DH Kathleen Duffy and second-year outfielder Jenn Simile also fared well in the hitter’s box. Both were 2–3 with two RBIs. Even first-year pitcher Sarah Neuhaus pumped out two hits, though her defensive game was what stood out. Strong on the mound, Neuhaus allowed no earned runs throughout her four and two-thirds innings pitched. The team made no errors. The second game turned out somewhat differently. “Pitching wasn’t as good,” second-year first baseman Lori Knapp said. Neither was the defense. In contrast to the first game, the Maroons committed three errors, all at crucial points. The second game also saw a significant change in the weather. A steady rain began to fall in the early innings and kept up for most of the game. That might explain the poor pitching and defense, but Knapp wouldn’t allow it. “I don’t want to make any excuses,” she said. First-year first baseman Liz Payonk and third-year pitcher Lauren White both went 2–3, but had no RBIs between them. Schneider was 2–2 with a home-run. Ironically, both teams hit evenly, but Lake Forest made the most of their opportunities, scoring nine runs with only ten hits. Chicago had nine hits, but couldn’t bring home the base runners like the Foresters. The 9–5 loss to Lake Forest puts the Maroons at 11–11 for the season. But there is plenty of softball left. During a five day stretch spanning today through Tuesday, Chicago will play ten games, all doubleheaders, against Hope (twice), Lawrence, North Central, and Wheaton. There should be no worries that Chicago’s recent losses will affect them in the final stretch. “We’re focusing on one game at a time,” Knapp said, who believes strongly in the Maroons’ regional playoff chances. She thinks the team has what it takes to pull off some key victories down the stretch, as long as they stayed relaxed.“We can’t overthink things. Sometimes you can see, we play much better when the pressure’s off.” Pressure or not, Chicago needs wins. And there are ten wins waiting for them in the next five days.