Pohl’s Perspective


The Long And Winding Road

John Pohl, Journal sports writer

Back in 1970, The Beatles had a No. 1 song called “The Long and Winding Road.” Now I understand most of The Journal’s readers were not born yet (I was 11), but the song is still a good way to describe the journey the Webster University baseball and softball teams have been on thus far in 2012.

Their seasons have been long and winding, and the road has changed directions at any given moment.

For the baseball team, the road started Feb. 25 in Conway, Ark., when the Gorloks were swept by Hendrix College in a doubleheader. The softball team started a week later in Jackson, Miss., and was taken down 9-1 by Millsaps College in its first game. Needless to say, both teams had auspicious starts.

The baseball team returned home to familiar ground and quickly got on a winning track. The Gorloks won four straight before heading to Florida. Although it was early in the season, it was evident junior leadoff hitter Cody Stevenson was going to get on base and spark the offense.

It was obvious senior first baseman Tom Henke was going to hit for a high average, junior slugger Alex Kazmierski was going to drive in runs and infielder Mitchell Bonds was going to be a defensive force.

These guys’ names even sound like baseball player names — Bonds, Kazmierski, Henke and Stevenson. This Webster quartet was meant to play the game.  All four have at least a .319 batting average.

In Florida, the baseball team split six games, and the Gorloks were in every game. The Gorloks returned to St. Louis with high expectations.

After its season-opening loss, the softball team won three straight in Mississippi and headed to California for a grueling 10-game road trip. Although they fought valiantly in California, the road turned rocky as the Gorloks lost nine of 10 games. Coach Chris Eaton is never afraid of competition, even if it means playing a rugged schedule 2,000 miles away from home. Not many other teams do that.

Undaunted by being knocked around in California, the women came home with their heads held high and hungry for competition in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Behind the pitching of sophomore Trisha Thompson (8-7, 4.06 ERA) and the hitting of senior Julie Hartung (.391 batting average), freshman Taylor Gibbs (.371) and sophomore Danielle LaVenture (.342), the Gorloks won nine of 11 games.

Thompson’s eight wins account for more than half of Webster’s 13 victories. She pitched the first no-hitter in five years for Webster and has been downright dominant in several outings. Gibbs has four home runs and a .643 slugging percentage to go along with her high batting average. The road has gotten better and is straightening out for this resilient group.

The baseball team’s highway in the SLIAC has been straight, smooth and fast for most of the season. The Gorloks are 10-1 in the SLIAC and in first place — one and a half games ahead of Spalding University. Webster’s only blemish in conference was an extra-inning 8-4 loss to MacMurray College on April 10. The Gorloks are cruising into the SLIAC tournament and should be the favorites.

The softball team is tied for second in the SLIAC and has its sights set on winning the SLIAC tournament. The Gorloks are behind 6-0 Fontbonne University in the standings with two crucial road games coming up against the Griffins on April 28.

Yes, it is a long and winding road to get to the finish for these two teams. I just hope the road ends with SLIAC tournament championships for both squads.

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