After getting out to a roaring start in 2015, the Thunder softball team hit a bit of a snag in the last week with four straight losses at home.
Wheaton had their home opener last Thursday, hosting Aurora University at Ruth Leedy Field for a double header. In the afternoon game, Aurora got to Wheaton junior pitcher Katie Thornton early, getting out to a 4-0 lead before the Thunder finally scored in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by junior Alyssa Leonard. The two sides traded runs in the last two frames, but Aurora held on to get the win by a score of 5-2. The Thunder managed only four hits against Aurora pitcher Vanessa Hartzell and did not help Thornton in the field, either. Of the five runs Thornton surrendered, only two were earned thanks to three Wheaton errors.
The Thunder bats came to life in the second game, picking up 12 hits and scoring seven runs. But after getting out to a 7-1 lead in the fourth inning, Aurora got to sophomore starter Abby Butler and Thornton in relief, scoring seven straight runs to steal the game 8-7. Thornton went 3-3 at the plate with an RBI, senior catcher Ellen Radandt picked up three hits and freshman Julia Arthur drove in a pair, but it was not enough. Butler finished with a line of five runs on seven hits in 3-2/3 but ended with the no decision.
On Saturday, Wheaton welcomed Lake Forest to Leedy Field and again dropped a pair of home games. In the opener, freshman Kendall Kehres took the hill, but gave up five runs in the first four innings before Wheaton got on the board in the bottom half of the fourth. Wheaton scored three in the fifth and one in the seventh, but Lake Forrest held on to win 7-4. Wheaton hit the ball well, scattering ten hits, but struggled to push runners across. Thornton picked up another three hits from the cleanup spot but the top of the order finished just 1-11 on the game.
Thornton looked to be ready to snap the losing streak on the mound in the nightcap. Heading into the sixth inning, the Thunder led 4-0 behind four RBI groundouts. But in the last two innings, Thornton allowed seven runs, six of them earned, and Wheaton lost a fourth straight home game. Thornton picked up a couple of RBIs but took the loss, moving her to 4-4 on the year and Wheaton to 6-7 overall.
The Thunder will be back on the field Saturday for the Wheaton Invitational, wrapping up an eight game homestand. The opponents are TBD at the moment.
Editor’s Note: Thursday’s double header against St. Mary’s College will be covered in next week’s issue of the Record.