WPU Posts Huge Offense in Opener to Split Against Defending Champs
Davenport–The Statesmen softball team managed a season-best offensive explosion in the opener, but could not maintain its success in splitting a Midwest Collegiate Conference doubleheader versus St. Ambrose Wednesday.
#28 William Penn (17-8, 5-1 MCC) won the opener 11-4, but fell in the nightcap 7-2. The loss to the defending regular season champion Queen Bees (15-9, 5-1 MCC) not only was the squad’s first in league play, but also snapped WPU’s six-game winning streak.
The visitors posted 2014 highs with 11 runs and 20 hits in Wednesday’s first contest. They got going right away with two runs in the first as Sydney Edwards (Jr., Galesburg, Ill., Psychology & Biology) cleared the left-center fence. After not having a home run at all last year or any in her first 15 games this spring, she has now made the full trip around the pads twice in the team’s last eight games.
Two more runs were added in the third with RBI singles by Ashley Bezdicek (Jr., Walla Walla, Wash., Business Management) and Jorden Steele (Jr., Tacoma, Wash., Physical Education).
The four-run edge was extended by two more runs in the fourth. Edwards came around on a passed ball, while Jessica Christensen (So., Marysville, Wash., Sociology) also produced a run-scoring single. Brittanee Grove (Jr., Runnells, Iowa, Elementary Education) then made it 7-0 in favor of William Penn with a fifth-inning single.
Jennifer Whitehead (Sr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Biology) was cruising to that point, but ran into a logjam of trouble in the bottom of the fifth by allowing a grand slam, narrowing the margin to three at 7-4.
The Statesmen did not slow down at the plate, though, as Edwards brought in her squad’s eighth run with a sixth-inning single. The scoring concluded in the seventh with Bri Zerley (Jr., Monroe, Iowa, Biology) touching home plate on a wild pitch, Steele having an RBI one-bagger, and Malloree Grove (Sr., Runnells, Iowa, Physical Education) tallying one more with a sacrifice flyout.
The ‘O’ came in nearly every inning with WPU having at least three base knocks in six of the matchup’s seven frames. Eight different players had a hit with Edwards topping the list at 4-for-6 with three RBIs and two runs. Bezdicek and Steele finished 3-for-4, while Christensen was 3-for-5. Zerley (2-for-4) and Steviee Grove (Sr., Runnells, Iowa, History/Government) (2-for-5) also had multiple hits in the victory.
Steele produced two RBIs and Malloree Grove and Brittanee Grove each came around twice as well. The navy and gold’s run tally was its most since April 23, 2013 (Clarke), while its 20 hits were the most since March 27, 2011 (Grand View).
Whitehead improved to 11-1, but had to suffer through her toughest outing of the season to get there. All four of SAU’s runs were earned off of seven hits. The senior struck out five, while also walking five.
The sizzling Statesmen offense unfortunately cooled to lukewarm in the second game. The hosts were not much better, holding a slim 7-6 edge in hits, but came up with timely base knocks to secure the split.
Having already given up a run in the bottom of the first, Lunden Young (Jr., Lewiston, Idaho, Physical Education) allowed the biggest shot of the day on a three-run home run. That would end her day as she fell to 4-4 on the season. She permitted four runs (all earned) on three hits, while striking out one and walking one.
Brittanee Grove replaced Young and pitched well in relief, allowing three runs (all earned) on four hits in 5 1/3 frames. The junior posted five Ks without a walk.
Down 5-0 entering the fifth, WPU finally got on the board as Malloree Grove doubled around Steele and Edwards singled home Grove. The Statesmen put runners into scoring position in the third, fourth, and sixth innings as well, but failed to bring any other runs across. The Queen Bees countered those scores with two of their own in the sixth.
Christensen paced the plate effort with a 2-for-3 showing.
Next: William Penn returns to Oskaloosa Thursday to host Clarke in another MCC doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m.