Softball ends UMass’ winning streak


Freshman Gabbie Kowalik smashes a home run in the Billikens’ conference win over UMass. The Bills travel to Washington, D.C. this weekend to take on George Washington. Photo Courtesy of Billiken Athletics

After taking their first conference series win over La Salle, the Billiken softball team dropped a mid-week two-game series to Dayton followed by a split two-game series against conference favorite, UMass. The win over UMass ended the Minutewomen’s 25-game conference win streak dating back to their conference title last spring. They took a break from their conference schedule to play a single game against SIU and fell to the Salukis in the midweek matchup.

The Bills went down three runs early in the top of the first inning and the Flyers were able to lengthen the lead to five in the second. SLU sophomore Kat Lane got the Bills on the board in the third with an RBI triple, and classmate Sadie Wise had an RBI single to pull the lead within three.

The Flyers scored again at the top of the fourth but Mackenzie Lawson’s solo bomb in the same frame kept the lead at three up until the seventh inning. The Billiken defense wasn’t able to keep Dayton off the plate and gave up another three runs before the game ended at 9-3 in favor of the visitors.

There was some defensive improvement during the Bills second attempt at the Flyers of the day, but the offense couldn’t keep up and SLU fell 7-3. Once again the Bills went down in the first inning, this time by two, and they weren’t able to keep the game within reach. After a fourth inning defensive struggle, the Bills trailed 7-1 until Allie Herron’s two-run homer that ended the scoring for good.

SLU followed up the struggle against Dayton with another conference loss to the conference favorite, UMass. Originally scheduled to be a doubleheader followed by a single game on Sunday, the unfortunate St. Louis weather cancelled one game and spontaneously made it a two-game series.

Like the previous games, the Billikens struggled to keep the Minutewomen off the board in the top of the first and they went down four runs. Gabbie Kowalik was able to get one back in the bottom half of the frame, but UMass continued their offensive strike and were able to bring the score to 8-1 by the fourth. Kaitlin Breitbach and Wise drove in a run in the sixth, and Kowalik nailed a two-run home run to bring the score to 8-5, but that ended the scoring and the Bills dropped the first game of the doubleheader.

In a déjà vu for the Billikens, UMass drove in four runs in the first, but this time the SLU bats caught fire and were able to tie it quickly on a two-run drive out of the park by Wise, followed closely by a similar bomb from Kowalik. Maria Connell put the Bills on top for good in the second with an RBI single that scored Lane.

SLU upped their lead with a Kristi Stevenson team-leading fourth home run that brought in two. UMass threatened in the final innings but Kaylea Chappelle was able to keep the go-head run from advancing for her first win of the season.

“Beating UMass was a big conference win for us,” said Wise. “It felt like everything was coming together for the team.”

The win ended UMass’ 25-game conference win streak and moved the Bills to 4-3 in conference on the season.

Following the big conference win, the Bills took on SIU in a one game non-conference midweek April 2. The Salukis came out on top, 6-0, scoring in the second, fifth and sixth innings, and kept the Bills off the board.

The Billikens will travel to our nation’s capital to take on George Washington in a three-game conference series this weekend. They return to Billiken Sports Center April 9 to take on UMKC at 4 p.m.