Walk-off win lifts Owls over Illini in first game of split series

Walk-off win lifts Owls over Illini in first game of split series

The softball team split its doubleheader against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Feb. 25 at Bailey Park, winning the first game 5-4 in eight innings while losing the second game 19-1 in five innings.

The Owls walked onto the field with an 8-3 record and had just earned another split doubleheader against Radford University the previous day.

In Saturday’s first game, KSU hit three home runs and earned a victory. The Owls took the lead early, scoring a run in the first inning on a single by senior catcher Courtney Sutter and adding a solo home run by junior outfielder Noelle Winkles in the second inning.

Senior pitcher Logan Viers also started strong for the Owls, not allowing a run in the opening two innings. In the third, Illinois took the lead on a three-run home run and extended it with a solo shot soon after.

The Owls bounced back in the bottom half of the inning freshman outfielder Olivia Tamewitz hit a game-tying home run, bringing momentum back for KSU and making it a 4-4 game after three innings. Neither team found an advantage as both pitchers improved their performances. The game went into extra innings and the score remained tied after seven.

After Viers held the Illini scoreless in the top half of the eighth inning, the first batter up for the Owls was Winkles, hitting a walk-off home run to finally win the game.

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Illinois' Leigh Farina (left) leads off third base as Taylor Denton prepares to field a ball for the Owls. Photo credit: Cory Hancock

The Owls dropped the second game of the doubleheader with a score of 19-1 in only five innings. KSU didn’t find the offensive groove it had in the previous game. The team struggled defensively as well, committing six fielding errors and going through three pitchers.

Sutter hit a home run for the Owls’ only run of the game, giving the team a total of four home runs on the day.

The Owls move on with a 9-4 record on the season. In the first game, Viers earned her fourth win of the season, throwing a complete game and holding Illinois scoreless in seven of her eight innings pitched. Winkles hit 3-for-3 with two runs batted in, including the game-winning home run.

KSU plays the University of Georgia in Athens on Wednesday, March 1.

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