WSC softball season off to a rough start

Shawn Henley, Staff Writer

Wayne State College softball did not get off to the start they had hoped, going 1-5 last weekend at the 8-State Classic in Bentonville, Ark.

“The tournament was our first time being on dirt since the fall,” senior infielder Melanie Alyea said. “With that said I thought we did well for the most part.”

Last Friday, the Wildcats dropped their season opener 5-1 against East Central (Okla.). The Tigers scored all five runs in the second inning. Junior catcher Emily Wobken scored the only run for the Wildcats after a groundout double play in the fifth inning.

In game two against Emporia State, the Wildcats were held to only three hits throughout the entire game as the Hornets won 8-0. The Wildcats had a chance to score in the third inning when senior infielder Alyssa Schropp doubled and senior catcher Monique Alyea singled, but they could not score with the runners in scoring position.

“We struggled with runners in scoring position,” Melanie Alyea said. “That is where I think we fell short.”

The Hornets scored four of eight runs in the fifth inning and improved to 7-7 on the year, and the Wildcats fell to 0-2.

Two games were slated on Saturday for the Wildcats as they picked up a much-needed first win in the first game against Ouachita Baptist 2-1.

The game was scoreless going into the fourth inning, but Wobken and Chandler got runners on second and third. Melanie Alyea hit an RBI single followed by another RBI single by sophomore infielder Abbie Hix, giving the ‘Cats a 2-0 lead.

Ouachita scored its only run of the game in the seventh inning on a solo home run. The Wildcats improved to 1-2 and Ouachita fell to 6-3.

Game two on Saturday did not go WSC’s way, as Arkansas Monticello used only five innings to pick up the 9-1 victory. WSC got off to a quick start when Chandler singled in the first inning and scored on a wild pitch. Six of the Blossoms’ nine runs came in the second inning and they never looked back. The Wildcats fell to 1-3 and the Blossoms improved to 6-3.

Sunday’s first game was another close battle as the Wildcats fell to Southwest Baptist 2-1. The Bearcats scored the eventual winning runs in the second inning off the only error of the game by WSC. Melanie Alyea scored the only run for the Wildcats when she homered in the third inning.

In the final game of the tournament against Pittsburg State, WSC got off to an early 3-1 lead. All three runs came in the first inning as Melanie Alyea singled to score Wobken, junior infielder Jordyn Breitbarth singled, scoring Chandler and then Melanie Alyea scored on an illegal pitch to put the Wildcats up 3-1.

The Gorillas took the lead in the fifth inning, scoring four runs and continued to pile on the runs, staging off the Wildcats early lead and winning 10-3.

“We definitely need to hit better,” Head Coach Shelli Manson said. “We absolutely need to find our confidence in hitting and worrying about scoring runners rather than not scoring them.”

Throughout the tournament, Schropp led the Wildcats in batting average at .300 (3-10 with a double), followed by Chandler at .294 (5-17 with two runs) and Wobken with an average of .250 (4-16 with three doubles).

“It was usually one inning that messed with us,” Manson said. “It’s expected when we go and play teams from the south who’ve already played 10-12 games and have made their early-season mistakes.”

Pitching was exceptional for the Wildcats throughout the tournament.

“We were really proud of the pitchers,” Manson said. “There were a couple of times when their defense let them down and they stood in there and got them out of a jam. That was something we were really hoping to work out.”

Junior pitcher Nataliah Hopkins was 1-3 overall with a 1.78 ERA with a little over 19 innings pitched and 12 runs allowed. Sophomore pitcher Riley Vanderveen was 0-2 for the tournament with 10 innings pitched.

“I believe we need to improve on our confidence,” Melanie Alyea said. “We’re a good team with lots of talent, so we need to bring that to the field and show how good we really are.”

The Wildcats will be back in action today (Wednesday) at 1 p.m. for a non-conference doubleheader against Fort Hays State in Hays, Kansas.