The Illinois Wesleyan University softball team crushed all competition on April 13 and April 14, winning all four games in the annual IWU softball tournament by at least five runs.
This year’s IWU softball tournament focused on promoting awareness of Myelodysplastic Syndrome, or MDS, a blood cancer that can lead to a type of leukemia. The proceeds went to Murelle Plotner, a young girl who is fighting MDS and is from sophomore left fielder Audra James’ hometown, St. Joseph, Ill.
“Hearing Murelle’s story, and having also been impacted by Weish and his positive outlook, reminded us how lucky we are to be able to play the game we love,” senior Kellye Kohn said.
On Saturday, April 13, the Titans were invincible. The first game against Washington University in St. Louis was the closest game for the Titans all weekend. Winning 8-3, IWU scored early with a two-out double in the first inning by junior Allie Riordan that brought in the speedy James.
Not only did sophomore Hannah Bowen single to score Riordan and senior Keri Leach, in the same inning, senior third baseman Emma Clark also sent a bomb flying over the fence in right field for a solo home run.
Although the Washington University Bears fought hard to defeat the Titans, they were no match. The Titans came back stronger every inning with the help of junior pitcher Molly McCready, who struck out nine in six innings. The Bears didn’t have a chance.
This win against the Bears was just the beginning of the Titans’ success on the IWU softball field. In game two against Anderson University in Ind., the Ravens were basically batting practice for the Titans. IWU came out scoring 11 runs in the beginning of the first inning, with Leach and Clark each hitting home runs in the opening frame.
The Titans shut down their opponents after the fifth with a score of 15-0. IWU senior Alyssa Vorel brought home the win on the mound.
“I think motivation came from each girl sort of putting things into perspective and realizing that it is a blessing we even have the ability to step foot onto the field each day,” James observed of the wins. “We get really inspired by quotes and stories, and coach Tiff read us a story before our first game of the weekend, encouraging us to never take our time for granted.”
Hard work continued to pay off for the fighting Titans as they began play on Sunday, April 14. Winning 12-4 against Anderson University, the Titans once again brought an intense aggressiveness that their opponents could not keep up with.
Riordan, junior Sara Daley and senior Courtney Martin each sent a ball over the fence. The hitting dominance continued when slap-hitter James smacked a two-run home run over the left-center fence, the first of her Titan career.
“Our hitting was the biggest highlight,” head coach Steve King said. “We had several players reach base on a consistent basis, so that was great to see.
“If I were to pick a single highlight, it would have to be the home run by Audra James. The excitement on her face as she sprinted towards home to meet her teammates was priceless.”
First-year Jenna Noland and junior Jessica Toth dominated the mound, each sharing three innings and two strikeouts.
In the last game of the tournament, the Titans had 15 hits and scored 10 runs against Blackburn College.
Senior Stephanie Polich had three hits, with Clark, Toth and Kohn each having two hits.
Once again McCready’s pitching dominated on the mound, striking out four and allowing just one hit in three innings. Vorel brought in the win in the final two frames, with two strikeouts.
The season will continue on Saturday April, 20 against North Park University.