Sam Smith | Staff Writer
The Wheaton softball team ended its season with a 3-3 record in the final six games.
The Thunder hosted a doubleheader against the University of Chicago, ranked No. 21 in the NFCA poll, on Thursday, April 24. In game one, Chicago got on the board in the second thanks to a steal of home, and it turned out to be the only run scored in the game. Though Wheaton managed only a single hit, a sixth inning single by senior Jessica Goeke, they still were able to threaten in the late innings by drawing six walks. However, the fifth, sixth and seventh all ended in double plays and Chicago held on for the 1-0 win. Sophomore Katie Thornton took the loss, recording three strikeouts, one run on two hits and four walks in three innings.
In game two, Chicago got on the board in the first with a pair of runs and then added another in the second before Wheaton added two runs of their own on an error and a home run by junior Jessika Russi, the second of her Wheaton career. Chicago pushed the lead to 4-2 with a run in the fifth, and Wheaton pushed another across in the final frame on a Jessica triple, but the rally fell just short and Chicago won 4-3. Freshman Marissa Voss went four innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and a walk in a losing effort.
Wheaton’s next matchup was a weekend twin bill with Trinity Christian on Saturday. In game one, the Thunder pulled out a 1-0 victory behind freshman Abby Butler, who went the distance with a five hit shutout. Butler also scored Wheaton’s only run in the game, scoring on a single by sophomore Katie Yergler.
Katie Thornton followed Butler’s dominant performance with one of her own, a one hit shutout with no walk and nine strikeouts. Wheaton picked up a run in the fourth and two in the fifth to come away with the 3-0 victory and the doubleheader sweep. Sophomore Alyssa Leonard went 2-3 with two RBIs in the win.
Wheaton’s 2014 schedule came to a close on Wednesday with a doubleheader split at home against CCIW rival North Park. In the afternoon set, North Park came out swinging hot bats, putting up a six spot in the opening frame and chasing Wheaton starter Abby Butler without recording an out. The Thunder fired back with a pair of runs in the first and two more in the second, but North Park also added a couple in the second, building an 8-4 lead. North Park got on the board again in the sixth after a two-run home run. Wheaton got a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to narrow the gap, but could not complete the comeback, falling 10-7. Katie Thornton went 2-3 with a couple of RBIs, Yergler had a hit and two runs driven in, and Goeke and sophomore Christina Sandstedt each had a couple of hits and drove in a run. Butler took the loss to finish her freshman season at 9-4.
Wheaton pitching settled down in the evening set, as Wheaton came out on top 6-2. The Thunder scored three in the first to get on top early, then added three more insurance runs in the fourth. Thornton went the distance and allowed only one earned run on two hits with five strikeouts and was able to work around six walks to secure the win, finishing with a 9-8 record.
Wheaton ended the season at 20-18, 5-9 in CCIW play. Head Coach Katie East will have to say goodbye to a pair of key contributing seniors, Stacey Cladis and Jessica Goeke, but much of the starting lineup and all three pitchers will return for the 2015 campaign.