May 1, 2009

Maroons split with Wheaton to finish season at .500

Softball’s doubleheader Tuesday was a fitting end to an up-and-down season, as the Maroons split two games against Wheaton.The Maroons (14–14) leaned on first-year pitcher Sarah Neuhaus’ strong performance off the mound in the first game again the Thunder (18–21), winning 1–0, before dropping a 6–4 decision in the second game.Chicago came out fired up for senior day, honoring the team’s lone senior, shortstop Jen Jacobson, and Neuhaus led the way with her sixth shutout of the season.“In the first game we came out really strong,” second-year left fielder Caitlin Romano said. “It was senior day, so we all came out behind Jen, and shut [Wheaton] down both offensively and defensively,” she continued.Tuesday’s first game saw two almost untouchable pitchers go head-to-head, as neither team was able to get on the board until the final inning. Second-year pinch-hitter Lori Knapp led off the bottom of the seventh with a base hit, and Neuhaus and Jacobson reached on a single and walk, respectively, to load the bases and set up third-year third baseman Kathleen Duffy.Duffy, who finishes the season leading the team in hits, runs, total bases, and RBI, delivered with a single to score Knapp and hand the Maroons the victory. The first game’s pitchers’ duel gave way to an offensive flurry in the second game, as Wheaton jumped out to a 5–0 lead. “When the other team has a momentum shift, it can be really difficult to overcome that,” said Romano. With her squad looking to finish above .500 for the sixth time in seven seasons, first-year second baseman Julia Schneider knocked in a pair of runs with a double in the fifth inning, and Romano and Neuhaus followed up with RBIs to cut Wheaton’s lead to one.Wheaton, however, responded with a run in the top of the sixth inning, giving them the 6–4 lead that would become the final score.Chicago, who ended the season with an even 14–14 record, settled for a loss in Jacobson’s career finale, but another strong year has seen the shortstop climb to fourth on the career hits list, with 134.“Jen has been a major force on the team for four years,” Romano said, “and she is going to be hard to replace.”Although the 2009 season is officially over, the team, including Jacobson, will have one last hurrah. In June, they will travel abroad to Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands to travel and play for 10 days.“Knowing that [Tuesday’s game] wasn’t the end lightened the tone of the last game,” said Romano. “I’m really excited about the trip,” she continued, “it’s going to be incredible.”