The Knox softball team put together a valiant effort last weekend against Lake Forest but could not get their offense to jumpstart in a pair of losses on April 21.
In the first game against the Foresters (12-13, 2-0 MWC South), Knox opened by scoring a run in the third when freshman Rhiannon Neuville-Norton connected on a single that allowed junior Avecena Hollingsworth to score. That was all the offense the Prairie Fire could muster, connecting on just two hits for the rest of the game.
The lack of offense spoiled a solid effort on the mound from sophomore Amber Eisha. Eisha held the Foresters to only one run on five hits through seven innings, pushing the game into extra innings. The Foresters scored on a single not too long after a stolen base to end the game with a score of 2-1.
In the second game, the Foresters’ offensive attack was too much for the Prairie Fire women to match. Lake Forest swung their way to an early lead in the second inning, scoring four runs on five hits. Knox managed just two hits during the game off the bats of sophomore Jordan Shaffer and freshman Claire Neri.
“We couldn’t reach their level offensively. [Their] pitcher had a lot of movement in her pitches,” Hollingsworth said.
The Foresters went on to score five runs in the sixth inning, leaving the final score 9-0.
But the team remained confident heading into play against the MacMurray Highlanders last weekend, as evident by the words of Hollingsworth, who referred to them as a “team to beat.”
The first game was scoreless until the fourth when senior Amanda Wollrab connected on a two-run single to put the Prairie Fire ahead. The Prairie Fire’s only other run came on an RBI single by Neuville-Norton. Wollrab ended the game 2-for-3 with two RBIs while Hollingsworth added two hits of her own.
Eisha (4-9) was solid, striking out eight batters en route earning her second career shutout.
The win gave the Prairie Fire women their first at home this year, and ended a six-game losing streak.
In the second game things did not go as well for Knox. The Prairie Fire got off to a good start, scoring twice in the first inning via a single by Hollingsworth. But MacMurray erupted for eight runs on eight hits in the second inning off of sophomore pitcher Anna Lemen. The inning featured two of Knox’s five errors on the day.
But Knox did not go away, posting two more runs in the second inning after a second two-run single by Hollingsworth.
The Highlanders then stretched their lead by scoring twice in the third and fourth inning but Eisha, who came in for Lemen in the second inning, held the Highlanders scoreless from that point on. The Prairie Fire pulled together five runs in the bottom of the fifth, including a two-run double by freshman Jenna Butler to make the score 12-9.
In the seventh Knox nearly pulled off a game-winning rally. With two outs, Eisha crushed her second home run of the season, bringing the Prairie Fire within two runs of the Highlanders. Hollingsworth then doubled, allowing Butler to bat as the tying run. She was unable to come up with a hit, flying out to end the game 12-10.
Ultimately, the fielding woes early in the game proved costly.
“If we had minimized the errors we would have been able to get a win,” Lemen said.