To Western’s softball team, the best thing about its 10-4 non-conference victory over Northwestern on Thursday was that after unraveling in the third inning, the Panthers picked themselves up, cleaned up their play and took control once again.
Western led 5-0 after scoring four runs in the top of the third but Northwestern answered with four runs of its own in a 10-batter inning that featured four hits, two walks, a Western error and a wild pitch.
The Panthers answered with three runs in the top of the fourth, highlighted by a two-run Jenna Wiechmann bomb over the fence in right-center to take an 8-4 lead.
“I liked the fact that we came back,” Western coach Jim Clouse said. “When they got it to 5-4, I think the most important inning of the game was when we came back and put three more on [the scoreboard] and kind of separated again.
“Had we come back, I believe, in that inning and got nothing and stayed 5-4, then the momentum stays in their favor. I think we switched the momentum back in our favor. It’s nice to see the girls struggle for an inning and come back and survive that.”
Erika Beeler started for Western and was relieved with an out in the third by freshman Lexy Sanders after Northwestern scored four runs. Sanders got the win, throwing 4 2/3 innings. She allowed no hits while walking two, striking out two, and hitting a batter on in windy conditions.
Her performance helped steady Western.
“[Western] really played well other than that inning,” Clouse said. “We kind of booted it around a little bit and they got some good, solid hits in that inning as well. Lexy came in for Erika, I thought she did a good job and the defense did settle down some. [We’ve] just got to eliminate that inning.”