Webster Returns To Action With Sweep, No-Hitter

Webster Returns To Action With Sweep, No-Hitter
Webster University returned to softball action here Thursday afternoon following a nearly three-week hiatus due to the weather and showed very little rust as the Gorloks posted back-to-back five-inning shutouts over MacMurray College in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action at Blackburn Park.

In Thursday's opener, the Gorloks offense exploded for 10 runs in the fourth inning en route to its 14-0 win and then used a combined no-hitter from senior Morgan Mansur (Decatur, Ill./Lincoln Land CC) and sophomore Kaitlyn Johnson (East Alton, Ill./Greenville University) to earn an 8-0 win in the nightcap. Both games were called after five innings due to the 8-run mercy rule. 

The combined no-hitter by Mansur and Johnson was the first no-hitter for Webster since former Gorlok Rachel Franck tossed a seven-inning complete game no-hitter against Catholic University on March 9, 2013 in Kissimmee, Fla. The last time Webster's pitchers threw a combined no-hitter was in 2007 as Gail Vogt and Lexie Moore combined for a seven-inning no-hitter against Illinois College at Blackburn Park on March 6, 2007. 

With the two victories, Webster improves to 8-8 overall and 3-1 in the SLIAC, while MacMurray falls to 0-3 overall and 0-3 in the league. 

Thursday's game was the first for Webster since they split a doubleheader on March 21 at Greenville to open SLIAC play. Since that doubleheader at Greenville, the Gorloks had its next four doubleheaders rescheduled due to the wet spring weather that has hit the St. Louis area. 

In Thursday's opener, the Gorloks jumped in front 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning thanks to back-to-back walks issued to both freshman left fielder Alyssa Starks (Bowling Green, Mo./Bowling Green) and sophomore shortstop Taylor White (St. Charles, Mo./Lutheran St. Charles) and a three-run homer off the bat of senior catcher Terri Dearth (Lemont, Ill./Southwestern Illinois). Dearth's homer was her team-leading third of the season.
 
The Gorloks added its third run in the third inning on an RBI double to right center by freshman right fielder Skiela Martinez(Whittier, Calif./California) that plated sophomore centerfielder Abby Burroughs (Edwardsville, Ill./Triad), who had led off the frame with a walk and moved to second on a passed ball.

Those four runs were more than enough for senior pitcher Chelsea Thornley (Clinton, Mo./Clinton), who tossed five innings and allowed just five hits, while striking out three and walking none to improve to 2-5 on the season. Thornley retired the Highlanders in order in the first and fourth innings and got a double play in the third inning after allowing a hit and stranded a total of three runners on base for the game.

Thornley would get some extra insurance runs in the fourth inning as the Gorloks sent 14 hitters to the plate and scored 10 runs on seven hits and two MacMurray errors. The inning opened with White leading off with a triple and she would score on an RBI groundout by senior first baseman Tessa Johanning (Sullivan, Mo./Sullivan). Burroughs would then drive home the next run on an RBI single to left and she would score a few batters later when junior third baseman Brienna Sheperd (Central Point, Ore./College of the Redwoods) would reach on a fielding error by MacMurray right-fielder Kiersten Hann. After Shepherd reached on an error, Martinez would deliver an RBI on an infield single back to the pitcher and then Thornley reached on an error by Highlander shortstop Alyssa Garcia that allowed Sheperd to score the fifth run of the inning. Starks would ground out to second base for the second out of the inning, but White, Dearth, Johanning, and Burroughs all followed with singles, including a 2-run single by Burroughs to complete the scoring in the inning. In the inning, White and Burroughs each had two hits and combined for four RBIs. 

For the game, Webster had 10 hits, including a 3-for-3 effort at the plate by White, while Dearth, Burroughs, and Martinez each had two hits in the win. 

Haley Stewart (0-1) took the loss for MacMurray in the circle as she pitched 3.2 innings and allowed seven hits and 12 runs (six earned), while walking eight and fanning none.

The Gorloks drew eight walks in the opener and also had five stolen bases, including two apiece from White and Dearth. 

Meanwhile, in the nightcap, Webster's offense took advantage of three walks, two errors and stole five bases, including a steal of home by Johanning to score three runs in the bottom of the first inning. White walked to lead off the game, stole second and after the next batter, Dearth, also walked, both White and Dearth stole third and second respectively. Those two would score on a 2-run double to left center by Johanning. Johanning would eventually reach third on a throwing error in center by Maddy Gwertney and after senior first baseman Katlyn Garza (O'Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt North) reached on an error by Stewart at third base, both Johanning and Garza would execute a double steal as Johanning stole home and Garza stole second for her first career stolen base. 

Those three runs would be more than enough for Mansur as she struck out the side in the first, walked a batter in the second, retired the Highlanders in order in the third and put runners on first and second in the fourth thanks to an error by White and walk. 

For the game, Mansur pitched four innings and faced just one batter over the minimum as she walked two and tied a season-high with five strikeouts in improving her record to 5-3 on the season. In the fifth, Johnson replaced Mansur in the circle and she retired the Highlanders in order, including striking out Hann to end the inning. 

Webster added two more runs in the second inning thanks to a bunt, a fielder's choice, a walk, two stolen bases, a sacrifice fly by Burroughs and an RBI single by Garza.

The Gorloks lead grew to 7-0 in the bottom of the third inning thanks to an RBI double by White and an RBI single from Johanning. 

Needing one run to put the mercy rule into effect, MacMurray would retire the Gorloks in order in the fourth inning, but Webster would end the game early in the bottom of the fifth inning as freshman right fielder Amanda Kraus (Valley Park, Mo./Valley Park) drew a walk to lead off the inning. Kraus was then lifted for a pinch runner and that runner, Starks, would steal second with one out. After Dearth drew her third walk of the game, Johanning ended the game with her single to left center that scored Starks from second base.

Webster finished with six hits in the nightcap as Johanning went 3-for-3 with 4 RBIs, while White added two hits. After walking eight times in the opener, the Gorloks also walked eight times in the nightcap, including Dearth drawing three walks and Kraus walking twice. 

The Gorloks also stole nine bases in the nightcap and had a combined 14 in the doubleheader. The nine stolen bases were one off the school's single-game record of 10 set against Emmanuel in 2003. 

Webster will next be in action on Monday, April 9 as they host Principia College for a 5 p.m. SLIAC doubleheader at Blackburn Park.
 
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