By Drew Stuart
Two successive RBIs by Saint Martin’s University spelled a loss for the Western softball team in the top of the first inning.
The loss was the first game in a doubleheader that pitted the Vikings (12-25, 6-12 GNAC) against the Saints (18-14, 8-7 GNAC) on Monday, April 9.
With both teams well into Great Northwest Athletic Conference games, and the upcoming GNAC championships in May, Monday’s matchup was set to be a tense game, despite the warm weather.
After a shutout in a tripleheader against Montana State Billings, junior Shearyna Labasan knew they had to step up to beat the Saints.
“We just wanted to make sure to get our defense to work,” Shearyna said. “I think we did a good job overall.”
Despite freshman Kira Doan’s tough pitching, the Saints scored two runs in the top of the first inning. The Saints’ batting was good, but not good enough to overcome Doan’s excellent pitching as the game wore on.
Saint Martin’s senior pitcher Kim Nelson was tough to hit. However, sophomore Paityn Cyr smacked a homerun in the bottom of the second inning, bringing the score from 2-0 to 2-1.
Despite several excellent at-bats by the Vikings, the Saints’ infielding made them worthy opponents. Most of the balls put in play were quickly scooped up and caught, putting an increased importance on outfield hits for the Vikings.
Unfortunately, the Vikings couldn’t land any hits. Doan recognized they weren’t hitting quite the way they wanted.
“We hit it hard, but we hit it right to them a lot,” Doan said.
After the second inning, both teams came close to scoring, but to no avail. A steady supply of fly-balls and ineffective bunts by both teams kept the game rolling.
The Saints’ infielding was mostly airtight, but the Vikings were losing steam. At several points in the game, bases were given up with two errors made by the Vikings and several failed catches allowed the Saints to advance across the bases.
Nelson kept the pressure on for the Saints, often drawing out at-bats with a series of dizzying pitches that kept the Vikings on their toes.
However, Doan was no slouch either. Doan consistently forced batters into hitting flyballs to the outfield.
Neither team scored after the second inning. The 2-1 score at the end of the second became final after both the Vikings and the Saints failed to score in the seventh inning.
Western’s head coach Amy Suiter agreed with Doan.
“We needed to find gaps instead of people’s gloves,” Suiter said.