After going 4-14 in nonconference schedule play to start the season, the Webster University softball team won three of its first four St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games. The Gorloks were fueled by two great pitching performances by sophomore Trisha Thompson, including a no-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Westminster College on March 29.
“Once I walked those two girls (in the fourth inning), I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to have a perfect game anymore,’” Thompson said. “That was really the only time I thought about it. The rest of the time I was just trying to focus on each pitch. I wasn’t dwelling on past pitches or looking forward to what was going to happen. I was just like, ‘Pitch this pitch, then go to the next pitch.’”
Thompson walked two and struck out six in her seven shutout innings. Thompson’s no-hitter was the first for Webster since 2007.
Webster’s lone run came in the fifth inning when freshman Taylor Gibbs singled home sophomore Diana Haynes.
Webster fell 5-3 to the Blue Jays in the second game of the Gorloks’ doubleheader against Westminster at Blackburn Park. Webster committed an error with two outs in the third inning, which led to five unearned runs.
Junior pitcher Ashley Meagher took the loss. Meagher threw seven innings, allowing five unearned runs. She gave up eight hits and four walks while striking out three.
“We still have a couple innings here and there where we need to clean up,” Webster coach Chris Eaton said. “They’re getting better overall. Their bats are coming around.”
Webster’s offense came alive in a doubleheader at Eureka College in Eureka, Ill., on March 31. The Gorloks defeated Eureka 5-1 in the first game and 11-2 in the second.
Sophomore Danielle LaVenture had a huge day at the plate for the Gorloks. In the fifth inning of the 5-1 victory, LaVenture came up with the bases loaded and cleared them with a triple. LaVenture had four RBIs in the game, and she added three more RBIs on three hits in the 11-2 win.
“I wasn’t really hitting that bad at all,” LaVenture said. “I just basically had to find the holes in the field.”
In the 11-2 victory, Thompson picked up her fifth win of the season. She threw six innings, allowing one earned run on five hits while striking out six and walking none.
Thompson shifted her focus to mentally preparing for her starts after the difficult nonconference schedule.
“I didn’t have a change of heart, more of a change of mind,” Thompson said. “I decided to take things slower mentally. I worked a lot on my preparation as opposed to my physical preparation. I just took it one pitch at a time, and so far, it’s working.”
Eaton said the difficult competition Webster faced in its nonconference schedule will help the Gorloks against SLIAC opponents.
“All year they’ve been focused on conference, and one of their goals is to win conference,” Eaton said. “I think it helped once we got there. I always tell them that everybody starts over. We’re 0-0. The pitching we saw in California will help us down the road when we play tougher teams.”
LaVenture believes the nonconference schedule helped the Gorloks in their two doubleheaders.
“I personally think playing the better teams helped us,” LaVenture said. “It just showed us what we needed to work on in order to play teams like Fontbonne (University), Blackburn (College) and all the other teams in our conference. We definitely saw better pitching and hitting than what we’re going to see (in the SLIAC).”
Webster has three doubleheaders in the upcoming week. The Gorloks travel to Blackburn on April 4. They then host Greenville College on April 6 and Illinois College on April 10.