The Webster University softball team members wrote “Beat Fontbonne” on their goal balls at the beginning of the season. Fontbonne is considered the Gorloks’ rival. The team from down the road in Clayton has faced off against Webster in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship tournament final for the last three seasons. The Gorloks have lost that game every year since 2010.
If the Gorloks want to accomplish this goal, they will have to wait until this year’s postseason tournament. Webster dropped a doubleheader to the Griffins on Saturday, April 20 at Blackburn Park in the two schools’ only regular-season meeting.
“(Fontbonne is) always the team to beat,” junior pitcher Samantha Powers said. “(The losses are) kind of disappointing. I know we all wanted to beat them, but the big thing now is beating them in the tournament.”
Senior pitcher Trisha Thompson started Game 1 for Webster. The right-hander ran into trouble in the third and fifth innings. Fontbonne pushed across a run on an error to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. A solo home run pushed the Griffins’ lead to 2-0 in the fifth.
Webster struck back in the bottom of the sixth. The Gorloks executed a double steal with Powers — the team’s designated hitter for Game 1 — on third base and freshman left fielder Rachel Franck on first. Powers was called safe at the plate with a slide. Franck got to second base to continue Webster’s threat, now down 2-1.
Junior center fielder Molly Muntz advanced Franck to third on a single, and senior shortstop Jessica Arcangel scored Franck on an RBI fielder’s choice to tie the game at 2.
Webster couldn’t hold on to its new opportunity. Fontbonne brought home two more runs with the help of singles and an RBI groundout. The Griffins took the game 4-2. Thompson threw a complete game, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on 9 hits. She also struck out 6 batters.
“I think we were just happy that we stayed up throughout the whole game, then we came back to tie them up,” Powers said. “Obviously, it would have been better if we had come back and won, but we were happy that we stuck with them.”
Powers started the second game of the twin bill for Webster. From the get-go, Webster had trouble defensively. Three Gorlok errors led to three unearned runs against Powers and Webster. The Gorloks trailed 3-0 after a half inning of play.
“(We had) too many errors,” coach Chris Eaton said. “First inning, (Fontbonne) had six outs. And whenever you get down three runs in the first inning against a good team like that, it’s going to be hard to come back from.”
Senior third baseman Kayla Mahoney cut the deficit to 2 with a solo home run in the bottom of the second, her third of 2013. But the home run was all Webster would manage in Game 2. Down 4-1 in the fifth, the Griffins hit a three-run home run to blow the game open. Webster would drop the contest 7-1. Powers went all seven innings, walking five and surrendering 7 runs (4 earned) on 9 hits.
The doubleheader was senior day for Webster. Four players — Thompson, Arcangel, Mahoney and catcher Kaytlin Burczak — played in their final home games for Webster. The team’s fifth senior, catcher Aly Watson, was not at the game for Webster.
Powers is confident Webster will face Fontbonne later this year in the SLIAC championship tournament.
“I think we need to look at it as a positive experience,” Powers said. “We’ll see them again in the tournament. I think we’re just going to take it as a learning experience and take it from there.”
After the losses to Fontbonne, Webster traveled to MacMurray College (Ill.) in Jacksonville, Ill., for a doubleheader against the Highlanders on Sunday, April 21. The Gorloks made quick work of MacMurray. Each game lasted only 5 innings.
In Game 1, Thompson lowered her ERA to 2.13 by going five innings in a 10-0 win. Muntz knocked in 5 RBIs for Webster including her first home run of the season. Webster also hit double digits with a 10-1 victory in Game 2. Powers won her fourth game of the year by completing all five innings. Sophomore first baseman Taylor Gibbs hit two home runs, giving her 7 on the season. That placed her in the top 5 in the SLIAC in round-trippers.
The wins push Webster’s record to 18-11 (7-3 SLIAC). Whether Webster is playing Fontbonne, MacMurray or any SLIAC foe, Eaton said the team tries to look at conference contests with the same mindset. Fontbonne is ranked third in the NCAA Midwest region.
“We try to balance all the conference games as the same,” Eaton said. “Our main thing going in is that this was two conference games we wanted to win. Just like (April 21), we play MacMurray — two conference games that we’ll try to win.”
Up next for Webster is a trip to Fulton to face Westminster College (Mo.) on Thursday, April 25. The doubleheader against the Bluejays will begin at 6 p.m. Westminster holds third place in the SLIAC with a 7-7 overall record and a 4-2 conference mark. Westminster had six games either canceled or rescheduled so far in 2013.
The Gorloks will head to Louisville, Ky., to take on Spalding University for a doubleheader starting at noon CST on Saturday, April 27. The regular season wraps up with a doubleheader at Greenville College (Ill.) on Monday, April 29 at 4 p.m.