Winning streak ends at 14
After stranding 16 runners on base in the first 13 innings of Monday’s Southeast Conference doubleheader against No. 12 Washington, Fairfield wasn’t about to maroon more runners in the final inning of the nightcap.
The 15th-ranked Trojans scored a pair of runs in the seventh inning of the second game to win 4-3 and earn a split of the doubleheader.
“It felt pretty good,” Fairfield junior Marisa Repp said. “We’d been pushing for that the whole game. We just couldn’t get that last hit to get the runner in. So it felt pretty good to finally get one in.”
Trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, senior Katie Anderson led off and sent a slow roller to the left side. Washington third baseman Joni Erwin charged the ball and made a strong throw to first base, but it was high and Anderson reached safely on the error. After a walk and a pair of wild pitches from Washington junior Ashley Rausch, Repp singled up the middle to bring Anderson home to tie the game.
“I was just like, ‘Dear, God, please drop,’” Repp said. “That’s all I could think of.”
Repp, who leads the Trojans with 20 RBIs on the season, was 0-for-3 at the plate in the game up to that point. She had grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the first inning.
“Marisa had struggled with runners on base earlier, but she came through with a big hit there that tied it up,” Fairfield head coach Bob Bradfield said. “It was good for Marisa’s confidence to see her get that hit and get things going. She’s a good hitter, but things didn’t go her way most of the time tonight.”
Rausch then walked Fairfield sophomore Mackenzie McClure on four pitches to load the bases with nobody out. Fairfield sophomore Karley Williams then watched a full count pitch sail high to bring home the winning run on a walk.
“It wasn’t a pretty win by any means to walk in the winning run, but we’ll take it,” Bradfield said.
Rausch, who entered the game in the seventh inning to try to earn the save, walked three batters in the final frame to take the loss. It was in stark contrast to the first game, where she kept the Trojans off balance as the Demons won 4-2 to snap Fairfield’s 14-game winning streak.
Rausch scattered nine hits and allowed just two hits in the opening game. She struck out eight batters and walked three.
“I was really confident today,” Rausch said. “Confident in all my pitches. Confident in the way I was throwing. Confident that I could get any batter out. That really, really helps when I’m confident in my pitches because I’m able to throw them the way they’re supposed to be thrown and catch girls off guard.”
Washington jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the opening game. After senior Sammy Ellingson reached on a Fairfield error, senior Kaitlin Buchholz hit an RBI double and Rausch hit an RBI single.
“We were really fired up,” Rausch said. “We just came here all pumped up. We wanted to win.”
The Demons pushed their lead to 4-0 when Erwin hit an RBI double and junior Grace Redlinger hit an RBI single in the top of the sixth inning. But the Trojans answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame on RBI singles by Repp and Williams.
Fairfield loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning, but Rausch struck out Repp and got McClure to fly out to centerfield to end the game.
“She got herself out of some jams by coming up with some big strikeouts and forcing them into some pop-ups,” Washington head coach Angie Shrader said of Rausch.
Fairfield stranded nine runners on base in the opening game and then left six more on base in the first six innings of the nightcap. The Trojans loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning of the second game, and they loaded the bases with one out in the second inning, but were unable to score a run.
Meanwhile, Washington jumped out to another lead. Rausch’s infield single brought home a run in the first inning, and the Demons scored another run in the third inning when junior Amber Linnenkamp grounded out.
Fairfield junior Sydney Burnett had an RBI double in the fourth inning, and McClure hit an RBI single in the fifth to tie the game, but the Demons went back ahead in the seventh on Buchholz’s two-out RBI single. That’s when Shrader put her ace, Rausch, back in the pitcher’s circle, hoping to slam the door on Fairfield one last time. But it just didn’t happen that way. Washington lost the second game after never trailing in the contest.
“The second game was more of a revenge game,” Repp said. “We weren’t too happy about losing the first game, so we kind of felt like we needed to win that game just to show them that we could beat them.”
The two rival teams began the day tied atop the SEC standings, and that’s where they finished as well. Washington (13-5 overall) and Fairfield (18-4 overall) are both 7-3 in the league.
“We should have had two wins there,” Shrader said. “It was nice to get that first win and end their winning streak, but we should have come away with two [wins]. It’s just frustrating.”