NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Western Illinois softball used a combined 20 runs scored to open the 2013 regular season with wins over Central Arkansas, 10-3 (eight innings), and Belmont, 10-2, on Saturday (Feb. 9).
Game #1 Saturday, Feb. 9 at 11:15 a.m.
Western Illinois 10, Central Arkansas 3 (8 innings)
An offensive surge in the top of the eighth inning, highlighted by a Monica Rondon grand slam, propelled the Fighting Leathernecks to a season-opening victory over Central Arkansas 10-3 Saturday (Feb. 9) morning.
Western used short game to open the inning, as the international tie breaker rule was in effect placing Karissa Kouchis at second with no outs. Sammy Marshall laid down a bunt and beat the throw out for a single, then stole second base to put two in scoring position for Briana Williams who singled through the left side to bring in a run and break the tie.
Two Central Arkansas errors and a fielder's choice followed adding two more runs and loaded the bases for the Leathernecks. Rondon capitalized knocking a ball out of the park to straight-away center. The hit gave the junior outfielder her first collegiate home run, grand slam and runs batted in.
The seven-run lead held up in the bottom of the eighth as the defense retired Central Arkansas in order with three groundouts to solidify the final 10-3 win.
Western scored its first run of the game when Lia Romeo knocked a solo home run over the left field wall in the top of the first, and Central Arkansas responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the second to tie it up.
The Bears used four hits in the bottom of the fourth to stake a 3-1 advantage before the Leatherneck offense used back-to-back doubles from Rondon and Emma Jarrell and a single from Kouchis to knot the ballgame up 3-3 in the top of the fifth.
The international tie breaker was put in effect in the eighth inning after neither team could break the deadlock. The Leathernecks offense used three hits and two errors to tally seven runs in the top of the frame and held the Bears scoreless in the bottom half of the inning to solidify its first win of the 2013 season.
Rondon drove in a team-most four runs and went two-for-four at the plate with a grand slam and a double. Also posting multiple hit performances were Marshall (two-for-four) and Jarrell (two-for-four).
Kelsey Michelini recorded the complete game win in the circle tossing 8.0 innings. She allowed nine hits, three walks and struck out one.
Game #2 Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.
Western Illinois 10, Belmont 2
The Fighting Leathernecks continued its offensive tear against Belmont recording a 10-2 win on Saturday (Feb. 9) evening. The squad posted a total of 12 hits, two for extra bases.
Following two scoreless innings, Western used three consecutive infield singles by Karissa Kouchis, Sammy Marshall and Briana Williams to load the bases for Lia Romeo with no outs on the board. Romeo's check swing hit to the pitcher resulted in an out at home, however an errant throw on the double play attempt allowed the first run of the game to cross. On the next play, Monica Rondon laid down a bunt that allowed Briana Williams to score on the squeeze play. A trio of singles from Megg Kelly, Teagan Walsh and Emma Jarrell followed to make it a five-run third inning.
In the bottom half of the third, Belmont took advantage of three Leatherneck miscues to score two unearned runs and cut the deficit down to three runs.
The Western offense came charging back in the fourth tallying three runs on four hits. Marshall opened the frame with a double to left, while Williams followed with a single and a stolen base to reach scoring position. A Romeo single up the middle scored Marshall, but the Belmont throw home was in time to catch Williams in her attempt to score. With Romeo aboard at second, Rondon hit her second home run of the day to straight away center, forcing the Bruins to make a pitching change.
In the top of the seventh, the Leathernecks used back-to-back walks, a wild pitch and Jarrell single to add two insurance runs and stretch its lead to eight. The defense retired the Bruins in order to end the game, earn the final 10-2 win and to move to 2-0 on the young season.
Four Leathernecks turned in multiple-hit performances including Walsh (two-for-three), Williams (two-for-three), Jarrell (two-for-four) and(two-for-four), while Romeo, Rondon and Jarrell picked up two runs batted in apiece.
Kacyee Hart picked up her first collegiate win in the circle, tossing 4.0 innings. She allowed four hits and two unearned runs. Kelsey Michelini came in to finish off the final 3.0 innings, hold the Bruins hitless and strike out the side in the bottom of the sixth.
The Fighting Leathernecks resume play at the 2013 Belmont Spring Tournament on Sunday (Feb. 10). Game one against Jackson State is set to begin at 11:15 a.m. and game two against Valparaiso is slated for 1:15 p.m.