Last Thursday, April 12, the Thunder split a CCIW doubleheader against North Park University. In the first game, junior starting pitcher Kelly Thornton drew one walk and hit a double while sophomore outfielder Maddy Bonetto hit a double in the sixth inning as well. Four Thunder batters hit singles: junior third baseman Hannah Clark, sophomore infielder Morgan Ryan, junior outfielder Beka Behrens and senior infielder Julia Arthur. Clark also stole two bases.
Despite a decent offensive effort by Wheaton, the Vikings ended up with the 5-4 victory thanks to three runs in the fourth inning and two more runs in the sixth inning. Wheaton scored their two runs in the bottom of the third inning, and Bonetto’s two-run double in the bottom of the sixth brought the game within one run. The Vikings’ defense held, and the final score ended with North Park as the one-run winner.
North Park scored their five runs on six hits and committed one error while Wheaton scored their four runs on six hits and committed four errors. Senior pitcher Kelly Kehres pitched all seven innings of the first game.
In the second game, Wheaton started Thornton on the mound who allowed two runs during four and a third innings of pitching, and Kehres pitched the remaining three and two-thirds innings of relief and allowed one run on three hits. The Thunder committed one error during the second game.
At bat, Wheaton was able to score eight runs on nine hits. Ryan was 3-for-5 from home plate with three RBI. Thornton was 2-for-2 and hit a grand slam during the top of the eighth inning to give Wheaton’s lead some breathing room.
After North Park gained a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, Wheaton would go on to score two runs in the top of the fifth inning when Ryan’s single allowed junior outfielder Abby Hancock and Thornton to run home. The Vikings would retaliate in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at two runs each. After a North Park error in the top of the seventh, Arthur was able to get on base and would then run home after a RBI-single by Ryan four batters later. Once again, in the bottom of the same inning, North Park tied the game. Then, the top of the eighth inning happened.
Senior Megan Neuhaus hit a single, and then junior infielder/outfielder Ali Kent drew a walk. Then, for the fifth time in her career, Kehres stepped up to home plate to bat and hit a single down right field that brought Neuhaus home. Clark drew a walk next, and the bases were loaded. Thornton’s grand slam straight over center field fence brought the score to 8-3, the final score of the game. North Park scored three runs on seven hits in the second game and committed two errors.
Wheaton then traveled to Millikin University on Friday, April 13 for a doubleheader against the Big Blue.The first game Wheaton lost 8-1 after Wheaton’s one run on five hits and one error. Freshman first baseman Maddy Whitmer pitched the starting third of the first inning and allowed three runs, two of which were earned, with one walk and no strikeouts while Thornton pitched the other five and two-thirds innings and allowed five runs on nine hits and threw two strikeouts.
Thornton was the only Thunder softball player to hit a double, but Clark, Neuhaus, Kent and Arthur all hit singles.
The second game did not turn out any better. Millikin earned a 7-0 victory by scoring seven runs on 12 hits and committing no errors while Wheaton scored no runs on five hits and committed one error. Kehres pitched all seven innings of the second game and allowed all seven runs and 12 hits but also threw one strikeout.
Although Wheaton was unable to score runs, some of their players still were able to hit the softball to get on base. Thornton continued to display offensive consistency with her 15th double of the season, which marked her down in the Wheaton athletics history books as having the second-highest single-season doubles total. Thornton is two doubles short of the school record. Thornton was 2-for-3 from home plate, and Neuhaus, Ryan and Behrens all hit singles.
On Tuesday, April 17, Wheaton traveled to Rosemont, Ill. to face the Elmhurst Bluejays in another away CCIW matchup. Once again, Wheaton would lose both games of the doubleheader to their CCIW opponent.
In the first game, Elmhurst scored five runs on 12 hits and committed one error while Wheaton scored only one run on their four hits while committing one error as well. Kehres pitched all six innings for the Thunder and allowed all five of the Bluejays’ runs and their 12 hits while throwing two walks.
The four hits were credited to Thornton, Ryan, Rodriguez and Kent. Thornton hit a double but also earned a walk. Ryan and Kent both hit singles, and Rodriguez’s RBI-single allowed Thornton to reach home for Wheaton’s only run of the game.
In the second game, Elmhurst scored seven runs on 12 hits and committed one error. This time, Wheaton scored four runs on 11 hits, but the Thunder committed a costly four errors. Thornton pitched the seven innings of the nightcap game and allowed all seven of the Bluejays’ runs and their 12 hits.
Thornton was 2-for-3 from home plate, helping drive in a run and scoring one run herself. Kent was 2-for-3 as well, and Ryan was 2-for-4 with a RBI. Clark, Behrens, Bonetto, Arthur, Rodriguez and Ryan all hit doubles.
Wheaton travels to North Central College on Thursday for a 3 p.m. CCIW doubleheader in Naperville with the Cardinals. In the most recent ranking of the teams, North Central was ranked as the second-best team in the conference with a CCIW play record of 6-0 and an overall record of 20-2.