Sports / The Prairie Fire / April 23, 2009

MWC Classic a bummer: softball trapped in Illinois drought

The Knox softball team was in Janesville, Wisc. this past weekend, joining their conference-mates for the Midwest Conference Classic, a round-robin type tournament that lets each team play five other squads. The Prairie Fire (3-25, 0-9) were unable to get both sides of the diamond working at the same time, losing by fewer than seven only once, a 9-8 squeaker against Beloit.

Game one against Carroll was a one-sided offensive affair, with Knox losing 7-0. Junior Cory Bieber was the starter, throwing six innings, allowing ten hits and six earned runs. Knox had only two hits to answer, as freshman Bri Williams was 1-for-3, and junior Cassie Milleville was 1-for-2.

Game two saw Williams up on the mound, as the Fire faced the Beloit Buccaneers in the best fight the of the weekend. Williams threw six and two-thirds innings, striking out five with four earned runs, but allowing 15 hits.

The Knox offense was alive against the Bucs, grabbing eight runs in the first three innings, as senior Kate Latshaw was 3-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored. Milleville was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and sophomore Tara Orech was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

St. Norbert was next on the schedule, as Knox faced a division contender for the first time of the weekend. Norbert went to work on Bieber, hammering 19 hits and 13 earned runs, as the Knights cruised to a five-inning win, 16-2, improving to 8-3 in conference by tournaments’ end.

Knox’s offense was again sparse, as Milleville was 2-for-2, driving in Knox’s only two runs. Latshaw and junior Cheyenne Cortez both were 1-for-2, each scoring a run.

In game four, Knox continued its trip through the meat grinder, playing second place Ripon. Williams again got the ball, getting hit for 13 hits and six earned runs, while walking three and striking out two.

Knox’s offense was again nearly non-existent, and the Red Hawks got the mercy-rule win, 14-2 in the fifth to keep pressure on St. Norbert in the North Division.

The Prairie Fire were again despondent on offense, mustering only two hits and two runs while nursing two walks, with Latshaw going 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Freshman Beth McRill also had a hit.

The final game of the Classic pitted Knox against Lawrence, who, like the Fire, sits at the bottom of their division. With Williams on the mound to finish the weekend, Knox’s offense finally woke up, getting to Lawrence for ten hits and eight runs. Cortez, Latshaw and Williams were all 2-for-4, with Cortez collecting three RBIs. Junior Regina Cloyd got in on the fun, going 1-for-3 with three RBIs, while sophomore Emma Paul was 2-for-3.

Despite the offense’s valiant efforts, Williams struggled greatly in the circle, giving up 16 hits and 15 earned runs, as Knox fell once again, 16-8.

The Prairie Fire sit winless in conference play, having not won a game since their spring trip in Florida. Their next chance comes in Jacksonville on Saturday, as they face Illinois College in a doubleheader before having their final game at home against Lake Forest on Sunday. With four chances to break out of their winless conference ways, the Fire look to build something to lead off of next year, as well as possibly playing the role of spoiler, as other teams vie for the precious playoff spots.

Merritt Rohlfing

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