Softball makes debut with 3-2 record

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The Billiken softball team traveled south to Kennesaw, Ga. for their first games of their regular season, competing in the Rafter Memorial Tournament at Kennesaw State. They competed against Morehead State, Kennesaw State, South Carolina State and Austin Peay, bringing a 3-2 record back to St. Louis.

The women began the weekend with a 1-0 win against Morehead State. Junior pitcher Maddie Baalman and the rest of the fielding squad were keys for securing SLU’s first win of the season. Baalman threw a two-hitter, and junior infielder Allie Macfarlane nailed an RBI single early on to secure the win for SLU.

Senior outfielder Emma Buckles forced a walk with one out and stole second. Then, Macfarlane stepped up to the plate and struck the ball into right field to bring Buckles home.

Morehead State loaded up the bases in the top of the third with two outs and put the pressure on the Billiken defense. Baalman remained collected on the mound and forced a popup to keep the Eagles at bay.

Baalman kept her consistency throughout the game, retiring the seven batters in a row to seal the victory.

Kennesaw State handed SLU their first loss of the season during a hot fourth inning. The Bills could only manage to get one hit throughout the seven innings of play. Sophomore pitcher Kallen Loveless conceded four hits and four runs in the fourth inning to put SLU at a 4-0 deficit.

Sophomore infielder Mackenzie Lawson found the only hit of the game, bunting for a single. SLU allowed two more hits for Kennesaw State but managed to hold them at four runs for the remainder of the game.

However, the Billikens were able to turn the scoreless game around the following day with a 10-4 victory over South Carolina State.

The women took an early lead with a run off Buckles’ sacrifice pop fly, but South Carolina State replied with a three-run home run to take the wind out of SLU’s sails.

The women fought their way back with an unearned run in the bottom of the second, eager to take back the lead. South Carolina made the gap slightly wider with a run in the third inning, but SLU snatched up another unearned run in the bottom of the third to make the game 4-3.

In the fourth inning, SLU finally struck gold. Senior infielder Alex Nickel and senior outfielder Mackenzie Peter each had triples, and Macfarlane earned a home run, the first of the season, to tally four runs on the board for SLU. The Billikens sealed the win at this point, taking the lead, 7-4.

In the fifth inning, SLU hit two RBIs to earn two more runs for the Billikens. They added the final run on a fielder’s choice in the sixth inning. The women had 13 total hits.

Freshman pitcher Kaylea Chappelle was a key for the Billiken fielding team in this matchup. She recorded her first collegiate win on the mound, striking out five, allowing five hits and walking just one batter.

SLU played Austin Peay in both of their final two games of the tournament. They lost the first battle, 5-4, but came back in the second matchup with a 14-5 victory.

Austin Peay beat the Billikens to the board in the first game, earning two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Buckles answered with an RBI groundout in the third inning to trail by only one run.

In the fifth inning, SLU changed the momentum by taking a 4-2 lead. Macfarlane nailed a two-run single, and junior infielder Alyssa Tarquinio tallied a single to bring in the third run of the inning.

Just as SLU thought they had clinched the win, Austin Peay came back with three runs in the bottom of the same inning. SLU was unable to come back despite getting two runners on base.

The Billikens got their revenge in the second game with a school-record-tying five home runs to help with a 14-5 win.

Peter opened up the game with a home run in the bottom of the first inning to bring in two runs for the Bills. In the second inning, Nickel notched a single to collect two runs. Buckles followed up her play with a double to add another point to their running tally. Peter was on fire with another home run to make a gaping 7-0 lead over Austin Peay.

SLU scored the remaining seven runs in the third inning alone. Lawson hit her first collegiate home run, Nickel slammed an RBI double, Buckles connected on an RBI single, Peter hit her third home run of the night to break the school record and Tarquinio added another home run for the Billikens.

Austin Peay made some attempts to regain control of the game with a few runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but they were subject to SLU’s relentless offense throughout the first half of the game. The game ended after five innings due to the eight-run rule.

Upon the conclusion of the weekend, Chappelle was selected as the A-10 Rookie of the Week, the first award of the season. She recorded three strikeouts in the relief innings against Kennesaw State and carried the team against South Carolina State. She was perfect in the relief innings and added a strikeout against Austin Peay in their first matchup.

Next up for the Billikens is the Chattanooga Frost Classic on Feb. 24-26. SLU will take on UT Martin, Western Michigan, Farleigh Dickinson, Northwestern State and Chattanooga.