Four games in four days proved to be the make or break time for the Knox College softball team, and some unfortunate slipups made it a game of numbers to see who makes it to the conference finals. A double header at Southern Division leader Lake Forest on Saturday, April 19 was a split for the ladies, giving a big morale boost to the team; but another trip, on Tuesday, April 22 to Grinnell College, turned into a sweep of the Fire, pushing them further out of the running.
The first game at Lake Forest was a beautiful showing for the team, with a 5-2 win on the back of a great game tossed by senior Bridget McCune, who went the complete game with eight hits, two runs, two strikeouts, and a walk. The bats were alive as well. Scoring came in the first on the back of an RBI double by senior Katie Dura in the first inning, after senior Katie Schneider made it to second on a throwing error.
An RBI single put up half the runs for the game for Lake Forest. Then in the third a single by Dura set up a two-run homer by sophomore Jessa Dahl making the deficit 3-1. In the fourth, two solo homers by senior Ann Marie Albright and Schneider brought it to 5-1. Lake Forest was able to put another up on the board with an RBI double in the sixth, but it was futile as they fell 5-2.
The second game was another story altogether, with a final score of 14-5 as Knox fell hard. In a shortened fifth inning affair, three pitchers, sophomore Cory Beiber, McCune, and sophomore Cassie Milleville gave up 13 hits and seven walks. The starter, Beiber, only made it one inning. The team was able to do what it had the previous game offensively, but the pitching and defense took a hard dip, allowing for such a blowout.
The game was manageable in the first two, as Knox answered Lake Forest’s four runs in the first inning with three of their own, but the third proved to be the undoing of the Fire, as several walks and throwing errors set up a grand slam, as McCune, still tired from the previous game, was rocked for six runs. Lake Forest sealed it in the fifth as they scored another three and after grabbing one in the fourth, ended it 14-5. Knox was unable to mount any kind of comeback.
Game one of the Tuesday doubleheader against Grinnell turned into a shootout, as both defenses were unable to finish a play, with the final score going against the Fire 12-11. McCune gave up only one earned run off 12 hits, but with six costly errors in the mix a sloppy game was in the works. Neither pitcher was particularly ineffective, but the errors undid the teams and only through a series of miracles did Grinnell pull off the win. Three home runs were given up, two by Lake Forest, as Dura and Albright hit them out, Dura’s for one run, Albright’s for three RBI’s. It was a heartbreaker setting up a must-win for the second game.
The second half of the bill proved to be the supreme disappointment, as the Grinnell bats got it going again. Knox fell 12-7, as McCune went the whole game, racking up 17 hits with the 12 runs, facing 40 batters. Nary a home run was given up by either team, as Grinnell was able to knock around McCune, small balling Knox to death. Dahl went two for four, driving in three. Dura went two for three with two RBI’s, and senior Monyca Fisher drove in one run, going one for three.
Knox currently sits at fourth in the standings and if they sweep Illinois College this weekend, combined with both Grinnell and Monmouth losing at least two more, there still stands a chance for the playoffs.