By Chris McGee
Freshman pitcher Shaylon Robb (2-2) has learned early in her softball career that one bad inning can affect the outcome of an entire game.
The Colonels (6-3) were facing Alabama State Sunday in the last game of the Phyllis Rafter Memorial Classic, hosted by Kennesaw State in Woodstock, Ga.
Eastern had jumped to a 4-0 lead behind Robb’s solid pitching; she sat the first nine batters put in front of her. However, in the fourth inning she allowed five earned runs, including a grand slam, to give the Hornets a 5-4 win.
Robb finished the game with five earned runs, no walks and six strikeouts. She also didn’t shy away from her culpability in the loss.
“I take full responsibility for the loss,” said Robb. ” I left some pitches too high in the [strike] zone and there were some small hits that weren’t fielded.”
The team had a better day Saturday, picking up victories over Campbell, 9-7 and Southeastern Louisiana, 5-1.
In the Campbell game, Eastern scored early in the first with three runs, including an RBI double from freshman Katie Tackett. But the Camels had an answer, scoring one in their half of the inning and then six more in the second making it 7-3.
The Colonels, however, were not finished. They scored a total of six runs: two in the fourth, six and seventh innings. Senior Larkyn Wood provided the game-winner with a two-run shot in the top of the seventh.
Freshman pitcher Leanna Pittsenbarger came on in relief in the fourth and held Campbell at bay over the last four innings, allowing four hits, one walk and three strikeouts. Senior outfielder Diane Gallagher finished 2-for-5 with three runs and a stolen base.
During the Southeastern Louisiana game, the Colonels were behind until the third inning. In the bottom of the third, Tackett got the team on board with a two-run single up the middle. Lauren Mitchell then drew a walk with the bases loaded, and Shannon McQueen came home on a wild pitch to put the finishing touches on a four-run inning for Eastern. Wood then put the Colonels ahead for good with an RBI single in the fifth.
Pittsenbarger pitched a complete game, allowing one run, walking two and striking out six.
Eastern had a split personality Friday, losing to Indiana, 6-0, in the first game and then defeating Georgia State in the second, 5-2.
In the Indiana game, the Hoosiers scored early and never looked back. They scored three runs off of two hits as a result of groundouts and a wild pitch. Eastern did not have a hit until the fourth inning and only had two for the whole game. Indiana added three more runs in the third for the victory.
Diane Gallagher got things going for the Colonels during the Georgia game with a single and a stolen base in the bottom of the first. Junior Carissa Reisinger followed with a run-scoring single to put the team on top, 1-0. Freshman Lauren Mitchell extended Eastern’s lead to 3-0 with her first collegiate home run in the fourth.
The Panthers scored in the fifth on an Eastern throwing error to cut the lead to two, but the Colonels answered in the sixth with a two-run home run by Wood for the eventual margin of victory, 5-2.
Teamwork was one of the positives Robb took away from the weekend.
“Overall, we worked well together as a team,” Robb said. “Leanna [Pitsenbarger] came on in relief Sunday, even though she was still sore from the day before and did a good job.”
Coach Jane Worthington said the team had some positives and negatives to mull over.
She also said a few fundamentals would need work in practice to prepare for the next tournament.
“We are going to work on hitting our spots more, keeping the ball low and getting more first-pitch strikeouts,” Worthington said.
She also said it’s not good to get behind in the count when you’re facing good hitters like some of the ones the team just faced.
Worthington was not at all concerned about Robb’s poor fourth inning in Sunday’s game.
“She knows what she did wrong and what she has to work on; she’ll work through it,” Worthington said.
The Colonels begin a west coast trip March 7 with a doubleheader against the University of California Riverside at 3 p.m.