As the Webster University softball team fights for a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship, two first-year players from Phoenix will play a key role.
Freshman pitcher Trisha Thompson and junior outfielder Brandi Strowman were both recruited by softball coach Chris Eaton to come to Webster.
Although they come from the same city, Thompson and Strowman didn’t know each other before committing to Webster.
“Coach (Eaton) was looking for players on the west coast because we play year-round,” Strowman said. “He emailed all the junior colleges in my conference, and I liked what I heard.”
Strowman, who is among the conference leaders in at-bats and has played in every game this year, said she liked Webster from the beginning. She played at Glendale Community College last year.
“I visited and liked the girls, people and coaches,” Strowman said. “I fell in love with everyone right away. I really like the small town feel of Webster.”
At the same time Strowman was being recruited by Eaton, Thompson was being recruited just 20 minutes away.
“I knew they needed pitching, so I emailed Coach Eaton, and my dad and I came for a visit,” Thompson said. “I thought about DePauw (University), where I had a friend, but in the end, I wanted to come to Webster.”
Eaton opened up his recruiting to non-traditional areas.
“I tried to hit different colleges in Arizona and Michigan,” Eaton said. “Arizona has no Division lll softball, so that helped.”
Both women are finding out that getting used to St. Louis’ weather can be a little tricky.
“I have never practiced in a gym before,” Strowman said. “We do it all the time because of the weather. There is grass here. In Arizona, there is nothing but palm trees and rocks.”
Like Strowman, Thompson also thinks playing softball in Missouri is different than in Arizona.
“At Webster, things can get a little iffy,” Thompson said. “In Arizona, 99 percent of the time you play. Here, it is 50-50 with the weather.”
Thompson has the fourth-best ERA in the SLIAC at 2.96. She has a 5-2 record and has struck out 33 batters for the Gorloks.
“I’m doing the best for my team,” Thompson said. “I don’t bat much, so I have to contribute with my pitching. My goals are to start every game I pitch and finish it.”
Webster has won six of seven games heading into the final three weeks of the season, as the SLIAC postseason tournament starts the first week of May. The Gorloks have a 13-9 record overall and are 3-1 in conference play. They are just one game off the conference lead.
Thompson likes the way the team is currently playing.
“We play better when the pressure is on,” Thompson said. “Our goals are to be conference champs and go to regionals. We want to win.”
All of Webster’s remaining games are within the conference, including three doubleheaders this week. The Gorloks play at Greenville College on April 6, then return home to face Principia College on April 9 at 1 p.m. at Blackburn Park.
The Gorloks then play at Washington University on April 10 at 1 p.m.