Winning in the wind

MARSHALL – A nasty North wind tempered the Marshall bats during a Southwest Conference softball doubleheader with the Windom Eagles on Thursday, but it could not keep them silent forever.

After totaling just one run on three hits over the first five innings of play at the Marshall Softball Complex, the Tigers erupted for 25 runs and 25 hits in their next six innings. The offensive tidal wave carried the Tigers to a sweep of Windom. They won the opener 9-7 and took the second game 17-6 in five innings.

“We just amped ourselves up and were starting to talk a lot more,” Tiger shortstop Brooke Louwagie said of the change in the dugout. “We were just trying to get everyone moving and talking.”

Louwagie finished the twin bill 4-for-8 with four RBIs, four runs scored and a home run.

The Tigers trailed 7-1 in the first game of the doubleheader before their eight-run sixth.

After senior Amy Welu was hit by a pitch, the Tigers strung together three straight hits. Tori Arzdorf’s RBI double that drove in Welu was sandwiched by Sadie Zahrbock and Jayme Citrowske singles. Madison Radel and Callie Graff each walked, with Graff’s free pass sending Arzdorf in to score. Miranda Fischer hit into a fielder’s choice, during which Citrowske scored, before back-to-back RBI singles from Louwagie and Emily Mortier. Welu drove home the final run, knocking in Mortier with a single.

The Tigers closed out the game in the top of the seventh. Pitcher Callie Graff, who struck out seven Eagles in the win, snared a line drive back up the middle and turned it into a quick double play. Graff ended the game by getting Meegan Hanson to ground out to second.

On a blustery, cold day it would have been easy for the Tigers to give up, but the team held strong to end a three-game losing streak.

“We were proud that they stuck it out,” Marshall head coach Jack Houseman said. “(Windom) did give us some help there. We did have a few swinging bunts and a few errors that helped get us the eight runs, but they did get their hits and piece it together.”

Welu led the Tigers at the plate in the game, finishing 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Citrowske was 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored.

In Game 2 the Tigers needed another comeback to pick up the win, but didn’t wait until the sixth inning to get it. Instead, the Tigers followed up a four-run first inning for Windom with a five-run second inning of their own.

Marshall jumped all over Windom pitcher Hannah Redmond, scoring 17 runs on 17 hits, five walks and two errors.

“I think they got a little more patient at the plate,” Houseman said of his team’s approach at the plate. “(Redmond) wasn’t throwing too many strikes. We started the game with a few errors that allowed them to get a lead, but we put together some big innings and big hits to put some runs on the board.”

The biggest hit of the game was also the farthest. Louwagie’s three-run home run into the wind in left field was part of a four-run third inning that broke open the game.

“I was pretty proud of Brooke. She normally likes to hit a little faster pitcher, so she’s been working on being a little patient and waiting for the last possible moment to pull the trigger,” Houseman said. “So she did a great job of that with waiting for the pitch to get there. Her at-bat after that she did another good job of being patient.”

Marshall added two more runs in the fourth before a six-run top of the fifth provided the Tigers with enough of a a cushion for a 10-run rule.

Graff was 4-for-5 with four RBIs for the Tigers in Game 2, while Miranda Fischer went 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBIs. Freshman first-baseman Julia Marshall knocked home four runs on two singles in the game also.

“Most of the girls worked a good count and got some decent pitches to hit,” Houseman said. “We got some runners on base and we got a couple of breaks tonight, so that was well deserved from the last few games where we haven’t had those drop in.”

Fischer picked up the win for the Tigers, allowing six runs on seven hits with a walk and a strikeout.

The Tigers improve to 3-4 on the year (3-3 SWC) and host Benson for a non-conference game on Monday in their next contest.