SPORTS

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April 5, 2011

Offense comes alive against Lake Forest, Hope

There is nothing like a good spring cleaning to restore the soul after a long, dreary winter. The Maroons softball team brushed off doldrums of a Florida past and swept consecutive double headers against Hope and Lake Forest over the weekend.

Winter dreams were not for naught as the Maroons endured the lowlands of Clermont and emerged a beast renewed.

“We have faced lots of adversity throughout this season, losing our starting shortstop in the off season, as well as a few minor injuries that have limited the playing time of a couple of our starters,” fourth-year catcher Sara Whaley said.

“I actually think our momentum has come from our first couple of losses,” second-year Samantha Hobson remarked. “It was after those that we really seemed to click as a team. It seemed as if we needed to lose in order to win.”

“[The recent streak] has really shown us our potential and how we can dominate teams that we have traditionally split with,” Whaley added.

On Friday at Hope the Maroons eked out a victory in the first game of the brace, 4–2. After relinquishing a run in the bottom of the first, the Maroons produced two apples of their own, a solo homer by Whaley in the second inning and a two-run blush by Liz Payonk in the fifth. In the latter half of the doubleheader, the Maroons trounced the Flying Dutch 12–4, collecting 16 hits and three longballs in the rout.

“We expected Hope to be aggressive with their baserunning, and they were, forcing us to make plays on runners attempting to take extra bases,” Coach Ruth Kmak said. “They pushed our outfielders to make good throws and our infielders to finish plays.”

The Maroons faced the Foresters on Saturday and scored early and often, recording a drubbing of Lake Forest 13–3. The Maroons recorded three three-run innings and 17 hits while racing out to a 5–0 lead that would prove insurmountable. A similar beating followed in the second contest, with Chicago conducting an 8–1 stroll through the park. The Maroons afflicted the Foresters with a severe case of lumber mortis, giving up just two hits in the first leg of the day-and-nighter and six more in the second. A remarkable figure shone in Julia Schneider who posted eight RBIs on the day.

“Lake Forest has some hitters who take big, powerful swings—they typically score runs in bunches,” Kmak remarked. “Our pitchers needed to keep them off balance and prevent the multiple-run inning.”

In fact, it was the Maroons with the mighty blows of offense. “A huge factor in our wins is that our bats have come alive—we are providing a pretty consistent offense with a whole lot of power and when we put up that many hits a game, it’s hard for opposing teams to overcome it,” first-year Julia Covello explained. “An overwhelming offence is the best defense.”

“I have never been on a team where six or seven home runs were hit within a two-day period,” first-year Kaitlyn Carpenter exclaimed. “I have also never seen five home runs hit by a single batter [Julia Schneider] in that time span either!”

Continued offensive success will be vital for the Maroons to continue their winning ways.

“We need to keep our offense firing while also continuing to sharpen up our defense, and allow our pitchers to gain strength and momentum heading into the second half of the season,” explained Kmak of future keys to success.

The Maroon play again today against Aurora. Pitching will have to find a way around first-year slugger Jackie Soch, who sports a remarkable 1.000 slugging percentage, in order for Chicago to be successful.

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