March 19, 2012
Don't ever let anyone tell you that Division I softball is easy! The team got in late Sunday night (March 11) after finishing our spring break trip at Oklahoma State (see the picture even though it was technically taken on our way to Oklahoma). We played four games while we were there (the last game on Sunday was cancelled due to weather) including a big win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (15-1), however the memorable game was our 4-3 loss to Oklahoma State. Amanda Ciran (our itty-bitty freshman) pitched a great game and was able to hold the Oklahoma State offense, the same one that took OSU to the NCAA tournament last spring, to four runs. Although we tallied three losses on the weekend, we came out feeling as if we had grown as a team. There are still kinks to be worked out but we proved that we could hang with big teams and will be able to in the future.
Come Monday it was back to Chicago and back to classes. I will freely admit that I love my classes and tend to get bored if I'm off for too long so it was nice to be back. After a much-needed day off, practices started back up and it might have been the week we had gone without lifting, or the 11 games we had played in nine days, but the practices were rough and the ice bath got a lot of use! But by Friday, we were ready to get back out on the diamond.
We left campus on Friday afternoon (March 16) bound for Oxford, Ohio, for the Miami Invitational. Games started on Saturday and once we figured out how to navigate the field (it was like concrete maze built into the side of a hill) we faced Miami (Ohio) and Ball State. There wasn't a lot of offense during the Miami game. Amanda had a no-hitter going into the top of the seventh inning when Miami broke a scoreless tie with its only hit, a solo shot over the centerfield fence. Even though we lost to Miami, 1-0, we were determined not to let our day end that way. In our second game of the day on Saturday, we came out and scored three runs in the first inning against Ball State. Heading into the seventh inning, the score was tied at 4-4 and this is where things got interesting. With two outs, Annie Korth and Keali Engelkens both reached on singles, giving us runners on first and second, and Lauren Zaworski made Ball State pay with a single that scored Annie for the go-ahead run. To keep things suspenseful, Brittany Gardner and the rest of the defense got out of a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the inning to earn the win. These are the games we all play for and even though it was a tough game, we kept fighting.
On Sunday we wrapped up the tournament with two more games, another against Ball State and one against Eastern Michigan and unfortunately, both resulted in a loss. They were a tough combination of lack of offense on our part and aggressive hitters on part of the other teams. Nobody likes losing and we are all heading back to Chicago with a list of things to work on. I have seen this team at its best and its worst. I've seen every one of us hit one over the fence during soft toss and strike out while hitting live against our pitchers. I've even seen Tarran Shaffer go up to hit without a bat! We can do this and we will do this, starting with our first Horizon League games next weekend against Wright State. I have faith!
Emily Bentley #27