November 29, 2020

Softball sprints past Principia Panthers

The Webster University softball team will soon enter its toughest week of the season. The Gorloks have no shortage of confidence with a couple of conference wins by way of mercy rule.

For the fifth time in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games, the Principia College (Ill.) Panthers were defeated before even getting to the sixth inning when they faced the Gorloks on Tuesday, April 9 at Blackburn Park. Webster coach Chris Eaton hoped his team would be able to end the night early.

“Usually (the Panthers) play most teams tough,” Eaton said. “They only had one pitcher, so she seemed to get real tired.”

Webster University junior pitcher Samantha Powers winds up her pitch during Game 2 of the Gorloks’ doubleheader against Principia College (Ill.) on Tuesday, April 9 at Blackburn Park. Powers threw 2 innings and surrendered a single run in Game 2. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS.

Webster’s pitchers continued to shut down their opponents’ offense. A 2.06 ERA and 133 strikeouts lead the SLIAC.

Senior pitcher Trisha Thompson hasn’t given up a run since April 2, and Thompson collected 8 strikeouts through 5 innings in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Panthers on April 9. Webster took the first game 8-0 in five innings.

Freshman pitcher Rachel Franck was nursing a stress fracture coming into Game 2. She gave up 2 runs in 3 innings of work and was relieved by junior pitcher Samantha Powers. Powers gave up a single run in 2 innings. The Gorloks came out on top 11-3 in five innings.

Powers, Franck and Thompson have pitched all of Webster’s 133 innings this season. Eaton said he is a little worried about his staff having the endurance it needs. The Gorloks play eight games over the next seven days — starting with a doubleheader at Washington University in St. Louis on Sunday, April 14 at noon.

“The main thing is Rachel’s arm and make sure she is healthy,” Eaton said. “We’re going to limit her and Trisha and try to save them later in the year for the conference tournament. Sam can also pitch well, though, so we’ll be fine.”

WashU is a team on the bubble of the top-25 national Division III rankings. Also in the stretch, Webster will face Fontbonne University. The Griffins are 6-0 in conference contests.

“It’s going to be tough,” said senior catcher Kaytlin Burczak. “As long as we are doing what we need to do off the field, then I think we’ll come on the field ready to go.”

Burczak hit a three-run home run in Game 1 against Principia. Burczak said she hasn’t hit as well as she expected this year but expects more power in the future.

“I haven’t been feeling the greatest,” Burczak said. “I just keep telling myself, ‘It’s just another game. Keep working hard and do better than the last.’”

Webster could have ended Game 2 against Principia in the top of the fifth inning. But after loading the bases, the Panthers scored on a wild pitch by Powers.

That set up Webster to end the game on an unorthodox walk-off hit. Junior center fielder Molly Muntz singled with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Senior catcher Aly Watson then drove one to the gap in left center, and Muntz came around to score with ease.

“It makes it a lot more fun (to win on a walk-off),” Muntz said. “It didn’t really matter to me, though, I was just glad Aly got the hit and we scored.”

Webster University senior catcher Kaytlin Burczak fouls off a pitch during Game 2 of the Gorlok’s doubleheader against Principia College (Ill.) on Tuesday, April 9 at Blackburn Park. Burczak hit a three-run home run in Game 1 against the Panthers, which Webster swept to move its St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record to 4-1. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS.

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