For Immediate Release
April 18, 2009
Eureka given own medicine as Webster rallies to end EC win streak
Late comebacks and close victories had helped the Red Devils softball team recover from an 0-9 start to post a respectable 9-8 mark since, but the tables were turned on Eureka College in a SLIAC Doubleheader versus Webster University in Eureka Saturday. Eureka took a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning only to see the Gorloks rally for four runs to sneak away with a 6-4 win in game one. Webster went on to a 4-1 victory in game two to deny EC its first win over Webster as a member of the SLIAC.
The fact that Eureka (9-19, 3-7 SLIAC) was even in position to lose a late lead against a veteran squad like Webster (15-15, 6-2) is saying something, considering where both teams were a month earlier. Webster entered the season as preseason favorites for the conference title, while the Red Devils were shut out six times in losing their first nine games.
Eureka had thrown good defense at the opposition during its season-long four-game winning streak coming into the day, but an error led to three unearned tallies for Webster in the very first inning. Samantha Dittman, who accounted for four of the Gorloks' nine RBIs on the day, hit an RBI single to cap the outburst.
Undaunted by the quick deficit, Eureka pitcher Kelsey Brandt (Morton, Ill./HS), took charge of the Webster lineup over the next fve frames. She shut down the Gorloks to the tune of two hits and no runs, giving her teammates time to get back in the game.
The Red Devils wasted little time doing just that. After having been set down in order in the first, Eureka batted around in the second, collecting a total of four runs on as many hits. Tomi Tapper (East Peoria, Ill./HS) put EC on the board, hitting in Nicole Ropp (Minonk, Ill./HS), who led off with a single and advanced to second on a bunt. Back-to-back walks filled the bases ahead of consecutive base hits by Steph Hatfield (Normal, Ill./West) and Carissa Alig (Metamora, Ill./HS) that sent Tapper, Allie Trainer (Manito, Ill./Midwest Central) and pinch runner Heather Skelton (Harvard, Ill./Alden-Hebron) to the plate.
The score remained 4-3 through the next four stanzas as neither attack could mount much of an offensive. The best scoring chance came about by two Eureka errors, but Brandt worked out of a fourth inning jam by fanning the final two hitters she faced in the frame.
Webster was down to its final two outs after ground ball to short retired the first batter in the seventh. But, Webster had the top of the order up. No. 2 hitter Cassie Mosier singled ahead of reigning SLIAC Player of the Year Kelsey Washam, who lifted a two-run homer, her seventh of the season, over the fence to give Webster a 5-4 edge. The Gorloks added an unearned insurance tally after an error and two singles to take a 6-4 to the home-half of the inning.
The Red Devils came within inches of tying the game up. A base hit by Alig brought Cathy Kalnicky (Bolingbrook, Ill./Plainfield), Eureka's all-time home run leader, to the plate as the tying run. Kalnicky did not make pure contact with the ball, but still muscled a fly ball to deep center, sending the centerfielder back to the wall where she reached up for the final catch of the game.
Alig went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs knocked run. She was the only Red Devil with multiple hits, though five others were in the hit column for EC as well. Alig ended up reaching base four times in seven plate appearances after recording another hit and a base on balls in game two.
Brandt allowed six runs (two earned) on nine hits in seven innings. She walked just one, but it came in the first inning, ending her consecutive innings streak without a walk at 28 innings.
In the nightcap, Webster again lept out to a quick lead early as Dittman cranked her first homer of the year for a two-run shot in the second inning.
Eureka missed an opportunity to grab the lead in the first after hits by Alig and Kalnicky. That would prove to be costly as Webster starter Megan Sperry set down 11 straight Eureka batters until Tapper broke up the string with a single with one out in the fifth.
The Gorloks increased their lead to 4-0 thanks to single markers in the fifth and sixth. The Red Devils made some noise in the seventh with a lead off hit by Ropp and a two-out RBI single off the bat of Ashley Unzicker (El Paso, Ill./El Paso-Gridley), but EC could not get the tying run to the plate, settling for a 4-1 decision. Ropp led the Red Devils with two runs scored on the day.
Abby Segal (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) did not have her customary strikeout pitch working, but still limited a powerful Webster attack to seven hits and four runs (three earned) in a complete game performance. She walked three and struck out two.
The Red Devils can still fight back to .500 in league play with a strong final week of the regular season. They are slated to take on MacMurray College in Jacksonville at 3:00 pm Wednesday, April 22, then Fontbonne University for Senior Day Saturday at 1:00 pm. Eureka turned back the Highlanders 2-1 in non-conference action on March 27 this season after taking three of four from MacMurray last year.
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