Written by Joe Hubbs. Media by Logan Nelson.
The Lady Panthers battled in a couple of pitcher’s duels Tuesday evening against the Rose Hulman Fighting Engineers. Senior pitcher Ashley Woodrome started and completed both games which were decided by one run each, and had two brilliant performances leading the Panthers to a 2-1 victory in the first game, and a 1-0 victory in the second game.
At the start of the first game it was obvious that both pitchers were sharp. Rose Hulman junior, Carly Heibel came into the contest with an ERA under 2.00, so the Panthers knew they would need to be patient at the plate. The Panthers were able to squeeze a run out of Heibel in the bottom of the second when sophomore catcher, Jessie Finke smacked a ball into left field to drive in her teammate Shannon Elbe who reached second base on a double off the wall in the previous at bat. The Panthers would have liked to have scored more runs, as Finke was stranded at second base. However, the lead gave Woodrome something to work with. The Panthers hurler, who struck out four of the first six hitters she faced and did not allow a baserunner in the first two frames she pitched, also hit a minor road block in the top of the third inning. Rose Hulman first baseman, Janel Lake lead off the inning with a base hit and came around to score on an RBI single by third baseman, Jenna Martinek. For the next three innings Woodrome and Heibel continued to find holes in the opposition’s bats, and the score remained 1-1. In a contest that appeared to have all the makings of an extra inning ballgame, Becca Oldham made the connection in the bottom of the sixth. With nobody on base, the freshman leftfielder got ahold of an offspeed pitch and sent in sailing over the left field wall for a solo homerun to give the Panthers a one run lead. Heading into the final inning with a 2-1 lead, the Panthers left the ball in Woodrome’s hands for the final three outs. Two Rose Hulman batters would reach base via walks, but the Panthers defense stepped up and they were able to close the game out for a 2-1 victory.
In the second game Coach Barnes entrusted Woodrome with the ball once again, and the senior showed no signs of tiring. Sophomore, Taylor Lockhart started the game for Rose Hulman, and pitched a solid game as well, only allowing one run. However, that one run proved to be all the Panthers needed to claim their second victory of the day. The Panthers had several scoring opportunities and even had a run erased from the scoreboard after the umpire ruled that they had hit out of order. Despite the setback, the Panthers managed to score again in the fifth inning with an RBI double by senior shortstop, Mattie Fairchild. The rest of the game Woodrome owned Rose Hulman hitters, pounding the upper inside corner to tie them up. In her final inning of work she held nothing back and with a nasty array of offspeed and breaking pitches, she struck out the side to get a 1-0 shutout in her last game pitched in Greenville. Woodrome would finish the day pitching all 14 innings for the Panthers, surrendering just one run and eight hits, while striking out 11 Rose Hulman batters.
Offense has been the hype of the Lady Panthers for most of the year. They have knocked the cover off of the softball all season and lead the SLIAC conference in virtually every offensive category, including hits, runs, homeruns, batting average and slugging percentage. They have even been hit by more pitches than any team in the conference! So it is no wonder why the Ladies own a phenomenal 27-11 record, 15-3 in conference, and have powered their way into the SLIAC tournament. With the masterful pitching performance by Woodrome the Panthers have made it clear that they can win the close games as well and look more than prepared for the tournament beginning next Thursday, May 1st at Principia. The Panthers will face Spalding on Thursday and either Fontbonne or Westminster on Friday as they aim to claim the conference championship title.CHECK OUT THIS INTERVIEW WITH SENIOR ASHLEY WOODROME