OMAHA, Neb. - Western Illinois softball saw its hopes of post season play slip away on Saturday (April 27) after dropping a pair of contests to Omaha 4-0 and 6-4. The losses give the Leathernecks an overall mark of 13-21 on the season and a 7-14 Summit League record, while the Mavericks move to 34-5 overall and 12-1 in league play.
Game #1 Omaha 4, Western Illinois 0
Saturday, April 27 at 12 p.m.
It was a pitchers' duel through four innings, however a Maverick rally in the bottom of the fifth proved to be the difference maker as Omaha went on to take game one of the series 4-0 from the Leathernecks.
The Mavericks put a total of seven runners on base in the first four innings, four of which reached scoring position, but Kelsey Michelini and the Leatherneck defense were able to record key outs to end each scoring threat.
In the bottom half of the fifth, Omaha broke the scoreless tie. An error, sacrifice bunt, wild pitch and another error allowed the Mavericks to take an early lead. An Amber Lutmer two-run home run followed plating two additional runs for a 3-0 advantage. Omaha added another run in the bottom of the sixth on two hits and an error.
The Leatherneck offense was held to a total of three hits by Maverick starting pitcher Dana Elsasser. Monica Rondon picked up the first with a single through the left side in the top of the second, Teagan Walsh recorded the second with a single up the middle in the fifth and Alex Pflieger notched the third on a sneaky bunt single in the top of the seventh.
In the top of the seventh, Pflieger opened the frame with a bunt single and Lia Romeo followed reaching on a hit by pitch. However, Omaha cut the comeback effort short ending the game by recording the final three outs with a fielder's choice, a strike out and a groundout.
Michelini (7-11) took the complete game loss in the circle. She fanned five, allowed seven hits and gave up two earned runs. Elsasser moved to 20-5 on the season striking out eight and holding the offense to three hits.
Game #2 Omaha 6, Western Illinois 4
Saturday, April 27 at 2 p.m.
The game two comeback effort from Western Illinois fell short as the Mavericks went on to take the nightcap by a score of 6-4.
After a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first, Omaha used a two-run home run followed by a solo home run to take an early 3-0 advantage and chase Leatherneck starting pitcher Kacyee Hart from the circle. The Mavericks used a sacrifice fly to center to plate the fourth run of the inning following a single and an error.
In the top of the second, Western was able to get one of the runs back. Teagan Walsh was able to wheel to second base on an error, then came around to score on a double from the bat of Karissa Kouchis.
Omaha added a run in the bottom of the second and another in the bottom of the third to extend its lead 5-1.
Western would not reach the scoring column again until the top of the fifth inning. Sammy Marshall led off with a bunt single and swiped second base to reach scoring position. Briana Williams and Megg Kelly used a walk and a single, respectively, to load up the bases. Lia Romeo was pegged with a pitch allowing a run to score, then Monica Rondon used a sacrifice fly to plate a second run.
In the top of the sixth, Kouchis ripped her second double of the game with one away to put a runner in scoring position and moved up to third when Marshall reached on an error. Marshall then stole her second base of the contest and the 74th of her career tying the Western Illinois career stolen bases record held by Stef Ryan (1991-94). Williams came through in the clutch plating a run with a single to left.
The Maverick defense recovered using a pop out in foul territory to end the sixth and recording a three up, three down top of the seventh to solidify the final 6-4 win.
Kouchis paced the Leatherneck offense with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate with a pair of doubles, while Marshall, Williams and Kelly each notched a hit. Picking up an RBI apiece for Western were Williams, Romeo, Rondon and Kouchis.
Hart took the loss in the circle falling to 4-6 on the season, while Omaha's Ashton Hughes remains flawless with a 9-0 record.
Western and Omaha are slated to play the final contest of the series on Sunday (April 28) at Westside Field at Westbrook in Omaha, Neb. First pitch is set for 12 p.m.