Kieran Ripken – Staff Writer
Gustavus softball had a packed weekend with a doubleheader on Saturday against Hamline and another doubleheader against Saint Mary’s on Sunday. Coming into the weekend, the Gusties were on a four-game winning streak. On Saturday, the Gusties held Hamline scoreless with dominant wins of 4-0 and 9-0. On Sunday, the Gusties started strong against Saint Mary’s with a 7-4 win but dropped the second game 9-4.
In game one on Saturday, Pitcher and Junior Piper Otto went to work in the circle, silencing Hamline’s offense with four strikeouts through seven scoreless innings for her fifth win on the season.
“The biggest thing was getting ahead in the count. When you get ahead, the pitchers have more control than the hitters do,” Otto said.
Both teams were engaged in a scoreless standoff until the third inning, when Gusties took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by First-year Caitlin Olafsson, scoring Junior Madi Mueller.
“It is important to set the tone of the game with a lead and jumping early in the game gives a safety net and more room to work with if anything happens, scoring first gets in the other team’s head giving us the momentum we need to win the game,” Olafsson said.
The scoreboard fell silent again until the sixth, when the Gusties loaded the bases. Sophomore Kayla Herda then launched a double into left center, scoring Mueller and Seniors Kate Murray and Kayla Ruud for a 4-0 lead. Hamline did not respond with any runs of their own, earning the Gusties a hard-fought win.
In the second game of the day, the Gusties got out ahead early with a single by Olafsson, scoring Herda and Mueller to take a 2-0 lead. In the fourth inning, Gustavus blew open the game with three more runs to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Ruud started the rally by scoring an RBI double to left center. Mueller followed with a sacrifice fly, and Herda closed the scoring run with an RBI single.
In the fifth inning, the Gusties put the game out of reach with four runs to close the game early. First-year Carly Nelson doubled in the first at-bat of the inning. Sophomore Shelby Ringwelski followed with an RBI double. Sophomore Greta Dahlen singled to right, scoring Ringwelski. Mueller tacked on the game’s final runs with a single to center, scoring Dahlen and First-year Lauren Lambert.
First-year pitcher Maizie Anderson held Hamline scoreless through five innings, striking out four and allowing five hits.
“We’re here to win and show the MIAC that we’re a competitive team and we can compete with anybody,” Nelson said.
In game one on Sunday, the Gusties extended their winning streak to seven games. Mueller led off and hit a single to get on base. Mueller stole second, then advanced to third on a single by Herda. Olafsson sent Mueller home on a sacrifice fly to earn a 1-0 lead.
Saint Mary’s responded with two runs and took the lead, which they held until the fourth inning. In the bottom of the inning, the Gusties’ bats exploded and capitalized on numerous Saint Mary’s errors. In the sixth, the Gusties tacked on two more runs courtesy of a Mueller RBI double and an RBI groundout by Olafsson. As of Sunday, Olafsson is tied for first in the MIAC with 28 RBIs.
Saint Mary’s did not give up, loading the bases twice for Anderson and scoring two runs in the top of the seventh. In the end, Saint Mary’s last efforts were not enough, and the Gusties earned a 7-4 win.
Otto got the start and another win for the Gusties, pitching six innings and striking out two with two runs allowed.
“My defense is pretty amazing. Madi Mueller making four insane catches. Being able to have a defense like that, you don’t worry too much,” Otto said.
In game two on Sunday, the Gustavus bats came alive and scored three runs in the first inning courtesy of RBI singles by the trio of Ringwelski, Lambert, and Dahlen. Saint Mary’s responded with a big second inning, scoring four runs to take the lead. Unfortunately, Saint Mary’s never looked back and scored a total of nine answered runs. The Gusties managed to tack on one more run in the seventh, but it was not enough. The Gusties lost 9-4.
“We have proven this year that we can beat any team in the conference. As far as postseason, I have hopes to make a little bit more of a push into the conference tournament than we did last year,” Coach Welter said.
The Gusties are now 15-15 on the season and 8-6 in conference play. Next on the schedule is a doubleheader on Saturday at St. Scholastica followed by a doubleheader at home against Augsburg on Sunday.