April 28, 2009

Sweep of Hope sends Kmak to 200th win

Head softball coach Ruth Kmak entered the 2009 season as the winningest softball coach in the program’s 41-year history. After a sweep of Hope College this weekend, she notched her 200th victory in the Chicago dugout.After losing seven of their last eight games, the Maroons (13–11) held Hope (16–22) to just four runs across two games en route to their first back-to-back wins since April 4.The Chicago sweep began with a 3–2 victory in the first game of the series, with first-year ace Sara Neuhaus tossing seven innings of two-run ball, forfeiting only four hits and one walk on her way to her eighth win of the year.Third-year third baseman Kathleen Duffy, who went 2–4 in the game, started off the day strong for the Maroons, delivering a two-run homer in the top of the first to put Chicago up 2–0. Duffy’s homerun was her 12th career blast, putting her in sole possession of third place on the Chicago all-time list. After shutting out the Flying Dutchmen in the bottom of the frame, Neuhaus pocketed an RBI double in the top of the second to cushion the Maroon lead at 3–0.Hope, however, responded in a hurry, scoring two runs in the bottom of the third to draw them within a run with the score at 3–2. First baseman Kelli Duimstra got the Flying Dutchmen going with an RBI single scoring first-year second baseman Kelly Mulcahy from third. The inning could have been a disaster for the Maroons, as the visitors surrendered two walks, a hit batsman, a stolen base, and an error that led to the second of Hope’s two runs.Neuhaus, however, seized control for the remainder of the game, holding the Flying Dutchmen to one hit in four innings while surrendering zero runs.After a brief break in play, Chicago took the second game with ease, coasting to a 6–2 victory.Second-year designated hitter Jennifer Simile initiated the offensive outburst with an RBI double in the top of the second. Later in the inning, second-year left fielder Lori Knapp chipped in a sacrifice RBI to put Chicago up by two. Neuhaus, who played right field in the second game, added a second RBI groundout to second to widen the lead to three.Hope got on the board after a wild pitch by third-year Lauren White brought in leftfielder Beth Yahraus to score in the bottom of the second. Chicago’s offense continued with a Neuhaus solo shot in the top of the fourth, and was capped off by first-year second baseman Julia Schneider’s two-run single in the top of the seventh. The Flying Dutchmen were outplayed in the field by a wide margin, allowing three errors, while the Maroons continued their run of strong defensive performances with zero errors.White pitched a complete game to earn her first victory of the season, allowing two runs on seven hits, while walking eight batters.For Chicago, Schneider went 4–7 at the plate on the day, continuing a recent tear that extends seven games in which she’s gone 12–16 with six RBI’s. Kmak has been coaching University softball for nearly ten years, leading the team to a 200–134 record. She continues to extend her record of wins at Chicago, with Patricia Kirby (1968–83) sitting second with 110.Softball looks to end the season on a strong note, having snapped a six-game losing streak by winning three of four. The Maroons traveled to North Central on Monday, and they will host Wheaton in their home season finale on Tuesday.