The softball team returned last Monday from their spring break trip to Florida with two more wins than last year’s total.
Head coach Ashley Sims sees the team’s battling spirit and strong bats as important factors to the wins.
The drive to beat last year’s lackluster three-win total was another force to the strong start to the season, sophomore outfielder Beth McRill pointed out.
“We have a lot of strong bats coming through our freshman and senior class,” senior Cassie Milleville said, pointing out the growth offensively this year. “All the seniors are really dedicated.”
The team left Florida with two losses on the final day but still a 5-4 record for the season. Unfortunately for the Fire, the losses kept coming last Monday when Iowa Wesleyan came to town.
Wesleyan 7, Knox 1
Three steals by Knox led to a 1-0 start to the first game. Freshman Jill Krippel stole home to give the Fire their only run of the game.
“Coming out in the first game, we did a lot of things well besides a couple of errors,” said Sims.
The Tigers came back in the third to take the lead, 2-1. This hitting continued for them in the next inning with four runners reaching home, making a comeback difficult for the Fire.
McRill had two hits with Krippel’s three stolen bases and freshman Brittany Wisniewski’s two stolen bases. The offensive power was, for the most part, kept scattered throughout the game and off the scoreboard.
The lack of hits from Knox allowed the Tigers to fight back and outscore the Prairie Fire 7-1.
Senior Cory Bieber took the loss allowing six earned runs and striking out four in her complete game effort.
Wesleyan 13, Knox 2
Things looked bright to start the game when the bases were loaded and already one run scored on a Wisniewski RBI groundout, but the inning ended without any additional runs.
The Tigers came with their bats for the game, getting 15 hits. Seven of the 15 came in the fourth when they broke the game open, scoring six runs. The Fire struggled to follow and could only scrape up four hits, including McRill’s third inning RBI single to right center. This left Knox with a 13-2 loss in five innings because of a forfit rule.
Sophomore Bri Collishaw pitched a full game in the loss, giving up 15 hits and 13 runs, nine of which were earned.
“It showed us some of the things we need to work on,” said McRill. This includes batting and some base running situations offensively, coach Sims pointed out.
Performer of the Week
Wisniewski was named Knox College Performer of the Week for her efforts during spring break. She currently leads the team and the Midwest Conference in RBI’s with 19. Many of her hits have come with some power behind them, including a walk-off grand slam against Mount Ida College.
Wisniewski has noticed the change from high school level softball. “Hitting is a lot more powerful,” said Wisniewski, talking about the defense side of things. Fortunately for her and the Prairie Fire, she has bolstered Knox’s offense even with the increased pitching quality associated with collegiate softball.
The team travels to Robert Morris College on Friday and Saturday and has the chance to double its win total from last year and break its four-game losing streak.
After that, the team will travel up to Wisconsin to battle MWC foes for the first time this season.
With a large amount of time between games, the team will have time to work on the trouble spots and improve in hopes to gain more wins.
The team will return home again on April 13 with a doubleheader against Robert Morris College.