March 26, 2012
The bus ride back to Chicago was definitely a happy one this time around because after a pre-season that did not go as expected, it felt good to come out and take two games from Wright State in our first Horizon League series of the season over the weekend! It may have been a bumpy road but it seems as if rotating the tires worked and we are still on track for taking the Horizon League by storm.
We suffered a tough loss (3-1) with Amanda Ciran on the mound in game one at Wright State on Saturday afternoon. Although she gave up a few runs early, Amanda had a great first conference appearance since from the third inning on she was untouchable only allowing one more hit the rest of the game. Unfortunately, our offense could not muster up enough runs to push past the early deficit. We got one back in the top of the seventh but that was not enough. Wright State's pitcher had us swinging out of our shoes at a changeup that barely got above our knees and we could not adjust in time.
Lucky for us however, Wright State put the same pitcher in the circle for the second game, which gave us another chance to take a hack at her. The team was only slightly more successful, with five hits instead of three, but the one run we scored ended up being enough. Brittany Gardner started this game and I had the pleasure of watching as batter after batter faced her and came up empty. She had nine glorious strikeouts on the game and only allowed two hits, and that combined with our defense, held Wright State in check so that we could earn the win.
Our first conference victory felt nice but nothing compares to the game that ended the series. Brittany was once again on the mound and was brilliant in shutting down Wright State. This time though, the solid pitching might have been amazing but not necessary as our offense came to play. Apparently, the third time is the charm because Wright State started the same pitcher as the first two games and we made them pay, starting with two runs in the top of the first. We kept going at it and tacked on two more runs in the fifth and four more in the seventh. This game, we had Brittany's back (even though her pitching was flawless) and won the last game of the series.
All of the games this weekend just felt good. The team was relaxed and having fun no matter how the game was going. We are a ridiculously close team off the field so it makes sense that this would translate on to the field and in the dugout. We know how to push each other and pump each other up, but our most important skill is that we know how to just have fun. This is supposed to be a game we play, no matter how tough the competition or serious our intentions. Softball is just a game, but if we maintain our focus and if we keep it fun, the wins will come. This week will present challenges with games against Northern Illinois (our home opener) on Wednesday and at Butler next weekend, but I know the team is excited for what lies ahead.
Also, I would like to conclude this entry by congratulating (Coach Tylka's Texas Roadhouse alias) José on his 14th birthday! We are all proud to call you one of our own, even while on a saddle.
Until next time,
Emily Bentley #27