Illini West overcomes sluggish offense to sweep Liberty

Illini West pitcher Madison Schuster delivers a pitch during the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Liberty. Schuster struck out 13 and allowed just one hit as the Chargers swept the doubleheader with 2-1 and 4-0 wins. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Mar. 30, 2013 9:59 pm Updated: Apr. 20, 2013 11:15 pm

Herald-Whig Sports Writer

LIBERTY, Ill. -- Mackenzi Anderson was initially disappointed.

The Illini West right fielder stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning of a tie game and envisioned a bases-clearing hit.

Once she made contact, it wasn't what she pictured.

Anderson fought off the pitch, producing a ground ball that rolled toward Liberty third baseman Shelli Ormond.

"No, not at all," said Anderson about if she thought the play would turn out well. "I was hoping to hit a strike into the gap."

Ormond bobbled the ball, allowing Elyce Trout to score, giving the Chargers the run they needed to beat the Eagles 2-1 and sweep Saturday's doubleheader. Illini West won the first game 4-0.

Anderson did her part in both games, collecting two hits and driving in three runs.

"Splitting the ball in half, I guess," Illini West coach Andy Gronewold said when asked what Anderson was doing well at the plate. "We're struggling with our bats. We haven't had a lot of time to see live pitching. We've only been outside twice. She was on today while everyone else was struggling."

Katy Claus helped Liberty (0-3) open the second game with a 1-0 lead. Claus led off by reaching on an error and stole second base. After Kara Wolf walked, Claus scored when Shelli Ormond reached on an error. Anderson knotted the game in the second inning with a single that scored Elyce Trout.

After Anderson's RBI single, both teams struggled to score. Liberty only had one hit -- a fourth-inning single by Brookyln Murfin -- and Illini West (4-0) finished with five hits.

Having to sit and watch Illini West's offense sputter was tough for Anderson.

"It was nauseating," Anderson said. "I didn't like that."

Chargers senior pitcher Madison Schuster was hoping Illini West's bats would catch up. Schuster struck out 13 batters and only allowed one hit. In the fifth inning, Claus advanced to third before Schuster struck out Shelby Wellman to end the inning.

"I was just trying to stay calm and do what I had to do and throw strikes," Schuster said. "And it worked."

According to Liberty coach Steve Buyck, it was a sequence that occurred too often for his team. The Eagles also struck out 10 times in the first game.

"They just hit their spots," Buyck said. "We just watched too many of the third strikes go by. The pitchers hit their spots, and we didn't swing the bats."

Mackenzee Herriman picked up the win for Illini West in the first game, striking out 10 and allowing three hits.

The Chargers scored runs in the third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings. Anderson drove in two runs, while Trout and Schuster also collected RBIs.

Liberty left eight runners on base.

"We're making big steps in the defense," Buyck said. "We have three freshmen and a sophomore stepping into some big roles. Each game, we're getting better defensively. We have to figure out how to get the bats going."


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