Whitehead Shines as Statesmen Go 2-3 at Top-Tier Event

William Penn Women's Athletics

William Penn Women’s Athletics

Gulf Shores, Ala.–Jennifer Whitehead (Sr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Biology) capped off an incredible spring break week to lead the William Penn softball team at the Gulf Coast Invitational hosted by Mobile Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, William Penn (7-6) began the day with an 11-9 loss to #9 Belhaven (Miss.), before rebounding to beat (RV) Columbia (Mo.) 3-1. The day ended with a 10-7 setback to #23 Central Methodist (Mo.).

The navy and gold split a pair on Saturday, first winning 2-0 against Thomas (Ga.) before falling 4-0 to #2 Spring Hill (Ala.).

Belhaven 11, William Penn 9

In a surprisingly high-scoring affair, the Statesmen jumped out to a 5-2 lead after two frames. Jorden Steele (Jr., Tacoma, Wash., Physical Education) had the big hit with a two-run double in the second.

Unfortunately the Blazers, who outhit WPU 11-9, roared back with nine unanswered runs to take a commanding 11-5 edge into the bottom of the seventh. William Penn did not quit, scoring four runs in its final at-bats, but could not overcome the sizeable deficit.

Sydney Edwards (Jr., Galesburg, Ill., Psychology & Biology) led the way with a 3-for-4 showing, while Brittanee Grove (Jr., Runnells, Iowa, Elementary Education) finished 2-for-4 (first home run at WPU) with three RBIs. Steele was 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. Malloree Grove (Sr., Runnells, Iowa, Physical Education) also touched home plate twice.

Brittanee Grove took the loss, striking out three with three walks in the complete game. William Penn committed five errors in the sloppy contest (BU had four) as only five of the runs Grove gave up were earned.

William Penn 3, Columbia 1

Whitehead’s first appearance in Alabama was a strong one as she limited the Cougars to just four hits (WPU held a 6-4 advantage). The senior tallied seven strikeouts with only one walk.

The Statesmen got on the board right away when Jessica Christensen (So., Marysville, Wash., Sociology) singled in Brittanee Grove in the first. Malloree Grove added to the margin in the fourth, scoring on a double by Steele, while Brittanee Grove concluded the squad’s scoring in the fifth off an error.

Christensen was 2-for-3 in the win. Columbia recorded its only run in the bottom of the fifth.

Central Methodist 10, William Penn 7

Like it did against Belhaven, the Statesmen fell behind big to the Eagles, but had a late rally to make things interesting.

Down 10-3 entering the final frame, WPU brought four across, headlined by a two-run two-bagger from Edwards. Brittanee Grove provided the biggest display of power, however, leaving the park in the third with a two-run home run–her second of the day.

Bri Zerley (Jr., Monroe, Iowa, Biology) was 3-for-4 at the dish, while Malloree Grove was 2-for-5. Edwards also scored twice in addition to her two RBIs. Grove was 1-for-2 (two RBIs) and walked two times as well. William Penn came up one shy in the hits category, 10-9.

Lunden Young (Jr., Lewiston, Idaho, Physical Education) took the loss to fall to 1-3. The junior, similar to Brittanee Grove earlier in the day, only actually permitted a few earned runs–two to be exact. She had some control issues, though, walking five with one strikeout.

William Penn 2, Thomas 0

Whitehead’s presence in the circle meant another pitcher’s duel was coming against the Night Hawks. The southpaw, who returns to her hometown at 6-0 with a 0.33 Earned Run Average, was dominant yet again with three strikeouts (one walk) in a one-hit shutout. She has kept opposing teams off the scoreboard three times thus far in 2014.

The Statesmen, who were limited to just two hits themselves, did all of their damage in a two-run fourth inning. Steele rounded the bases on a double by Christensen, while Zerley’s sacrifice fly brought home Brittanee Grove. WPU overcame three fielding errors. Malloree Grove joined Christensen in the hit club.

Spring Hill 4, William Penn 0

Sonia Ray (Sr., San Diego, Calif., Physical Education) was the only batter to tally a base knock against the Badgers’ Caroline Sagrera.

Brittanee Grove was no slouch herself, though, keeping the game scoreless through five frames. Unfortunately, poor fielding again reared its ugly head and two mistakes were critical in a four-run sixth inning for SHC. Grove (0-3) allowed one earned run with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings, while Young relieved her and struck out one (one walk) in 2/3 of an inning.

Next: If its home field is playable, William Penn will host Ashford in Oskaloosa Tuesday in a non-conference doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m.

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