The University of Chicago softball players opened their 2017 season over spring break, playing 11 games on their annual trip to Florida. The Maroons, who trained and competed in Clermont, FL, closed out the first week of play with a winning 7–4 record. The squad returned to Chicago last weekend and was quickly back in action, taking on North Park University for a doubleheader on Wednesday. A strong offensive effort gave the Maroons two wins on the day, improving their overall record to 9–4.
In their first three matchups of the year, UChicago rolled past Anderson University, Benedictine University, and St. Olaf College, outscoring opponents 24–8. The squad then dropped two close games against UW–Oshkosh and No. 13 UW–Eau Claire before bouncing back for a four-game winning streak with victories over Fontbonne University, Buffalo State College, Clarkson University, and Hendrix College.
The Maroons came back from a 6–4 deficit in the bottom of the seventh against Fontbonne to force the teams into extra innings. With two outs and the bases loaded, second-year shortstop Colleen Bennett hit a single to center field, allowing first-year teammates Danielle Allen and Christie Ambrose to score. Second-year pitcher Jordyne Prussak threw three outs to hold off Fontbonne in the eighth, and a late single from fourth-year Anna Woolery sent second-year Serena Moss through for the win. UChicago easily knocked off Buffalo State and Clarkson, winning 10–1 and 9–1 respectively. The Maroons then took down Hendrix 3–2.
On its last day of spring-break play, the squad faced two tough tests in Tufts University and No. 24 MIT. In the first matchup, the Maroons and the Jumbos were tied 1–1 after a pair of runs in the second. Tufts came through in the top of the sixth with a double to go ahead 3–1. UChicago’s offense responded with a base hit in the seventh, but was ultimately unable to score.
In the game against undefeated MIT, the Maroons scored in the first for a 1–0 lead, but the Engineers quickly came back to go up 3–1 before the end of the inning. UChicago then took a 4–3 lead in the third, but surrendered a run later in the inning. With the score tied 4–4 in the bottom of the fourth, MIT plated three runs to take back the lead. UChicago loaded the based with no outs in the top of the sixth and looked ready to get back on top, but three groundouts ended its hopes. The game ended early, 13–5, after the Engineers scored six more runs in the sixth.
Prussak, who boasts 11 strikeouts and a 1.73 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched this season, said of the team’s trip to Florida, “Our spring break trip went really well. We had a couple of big wins and a few tough losses, but overall we were happy with the results.”
After a few practices back at home, UChicago traveled to North Park for a doubleheader. The Maroons started the day off on a high note with four runs in the top of the first. The Vikings responded with a run later in the inning, but never gained the lead. UChicago plated six more runs for a 10–1 victory. North Park took the early lead in the second game, scoring a run in the first inning. UChicago answered in the top of the third with two runs and repeated in the fifth to go up 4–1. The teams exchanged runs in the sixth for a final score of 6–3.
The Maroons return to competition this weekend for back-to-back doubleheaders. The squad first hosts Illinois Wesleyan University (9–4) on Saturday, with the first game set to begin at 1 p.m. Last season, Illinois Wesleyan took home wins in both games, outscoring UChicago 3–1 and 6–3. On Sunday, the Maroons travel to UW–Whitewater (10–4). In the 2016 matchup, UChicago and UW–Whitewater split the games, with UW–Whitewater winning the first, 4–2, and UChicago taking home the second, 6–4.
Prussak said, “This weekend we are looking forward to having our first home games of the season. We can’t wait for the fans.” After 14 games away, the team is excited to compete in front of a home crowd.