The Rams (15-10, 5-5 MEC) lost both games of a home double-header to the Cardinals (13-11, 7-5 MEC). In both games, the Rams were could not muster anything offensively, losing game one 3-1 and game two 2-0.
Needless to say, the pitching on both sides was stellar for the most part, but the Cardinals were just a little bit better. Mallory Chapman (8-6) earned the win, as she out-dueled junior starting pitcher Kaitlin Munda (5-6) of the Rams.
Scoreless in the top of the third inning, Chapman showed her skills at the plate, hitting a RBI single up the middle to get outfielder Cassie Holstein home and give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
Later in the inning, catcher/infielder Rachel Conrad also had a RBI single, this time to left field, to get second baseman Jackie Cramer home, extending the Cardinals’ lead to 2-0.
In the bottom of the third inning, needing an offensive spark, sophomore shortstop/outfielder Kaitlyn Konopka smashed a RBI double to left field, as junior utility player Sarah North came in to score to cut the deficit to 2-1.
However, that would be all of the offense the Rams would be able to produce in the game, as they finished with just five hits. Time after time, they could not seem to figure out how to hit Chapman.
Chapman (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 SO) controlled the tempo of the game and largely held the Rams’ bats in check.
After a bases loaded walk to augment the Cardinals’ lead to 3-1 in the top of the sixth inning, the Cardinals had complete control of the game. Similar to how the offense was playing the whole game, the Rams’ sophomore second baseman/shortstop Morgan Cox, North, and Konopka all had a chance to make things interesting by getting on base, but all three grounded out consecutively to end the game.
While Munda did give up all three runs on ten hits, she did not have any run support from her offense to speak of. Her four strikeouts, however, almost cancelled out with her three walks, as she allowed numerous Cardinals to get on base.
The Cardinals only needed to cash in on a few of those opportunities to win game one, however.
In game two, the Cardinals would need even less run support to win the game, as they won 2-0.
Senior starting pitcher Tara Hanson had a nice outing (7 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K), but the two runs the Cardinals scored would prove to be more than enough for the win.
In the top of the third inning, catcher Victoria Scott reached first base thanks to an error by the Rams’ second baseman. Capitalzing off of the error, outfielder Molly Welsh sprinted around third base and headed home for the game’s first run, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
Later, in the top of the fourth inning, utility player Taylor DiPerna hit a RBI single to left center field to bring home utility player Michaela Miller for the game’s only earned run, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
That would be all the run support the Cardinals would need, however, as the Rams’ offense could not find a way to get runners home. Recording just five hits in the contest (just like in game one), the Rams had real difficulty finding success against Chapman (7 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 4 SO).
Chapman pitched both games, looking nearly unstoppable at times. Her assortment of pitches was too much for the Rams’ bats to handle. She got a majority of her outs thank to ground outs by getting the Rams’ batters to ground out.
However, the Rams tried hard to get back into and tie the game. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Senior outfielder Paige Buckworth singled to left field, with freshman utility player Bailee Jackson coming in to run for her. After a sacrifice bunt by senior third/first baseman Alexandra Witt, Jackson got to second base.
Sadly, this would be as far as she would get. Freshman first baseman Kelcie Jenkins struck out swinging. There were now two outs left, and Cox representing the tying run. Cox ended the game similarly to how the whole day was for the Rams: with a groundout to the Cardinals’ third baseman.
Chapman put the Cardinals on her back all game long, closing out the 2-0 victory.
The Rams will have to find a way to turn their offense around quickly, as they host West Liberty University in a double-header beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com