Softball Splits Doubleheader Season Opener Against Millsaps

Cara Hopper, senior pitcher; Owls Communication
Cara Hopper, senior pitcher; Owls Communication

COLUMBUS, Miss. – The Owls softball team took the field for the first time in 15 years on Sunday, Feb. 11 at the newly renovated Don Usher Softball Field. The W faced Millsaps College in doubleheader action for its 2018 season opener and was able to split the day with a 12-1 loss and a 7-2 victory.

GAME ONE (L, 12-4)

In the first game, the Owls were troubled by first game jitters and made several errors that resulted in a 12-1 loss.

The game started off slow for both teams with two scoreless innings. In the top of the third, the Majors found their rhythm and was able to score eight runs on three hits and two errors.

After a three up, three down showing of the Owls, Millsaps added an additional three runs in the top of the fourth on three hits and one error and scored its 12th and final run in the fifth on three hits and no errors.

Although down 12-0 going into the bottom of the fifth, the Owls did not give up. The W prevented the shutout scoring one run before closing the game. Katlyn Duke grounded out to second base, giving Heidi Matthews the opportunity to come home to record the Owls lone run and RBI of game one.

In their first games as Owls, Duke, Carolyn "Kendall" Wilkinson, Kristen Martin, and Bailee Watts will go on record as recording hits in the first game of the comeback season.

GAME TWO (W, 7-2)

In game two, the Owls softball team did not let the day's earlier loss hold them back. The players refocused and was able to defeat the Majors 7-2.

Millsaps caught an early lead in the second inning, scoring two runs on three hits and one error.

The Owls were almost silent in the bottom of the second but made their presence known in the third. The W let the bats sing and scored six runs on five hits and two errors to take the lead from the Majors 6-2.  

In the third, Kristen Martin singled to first base for an RBI to bring Anna Lloyd home. Kendall Wilkinson singled to second base for two RBIs allowing Martin and Heidi Matthews to come home and a triple by Bailee Watts allowed Brianna Duquette and Wilkinson to score. Lloyd stepped up and had a second time at the plate in the inning to land a single passed the shortstop to bring Watts home for the final run of the third inning.

The fourth and fifth innings went by scoreless but in the sixth The W scored its seventh and final run to seal the win. Katlyn Duke tripled to center field to bring Kandler Flora home for her second RBI of the day.

Cara Hopper, senior pitcher from Steens, Miss., pitched the entire game for the Owls to help lead her team to victory. On the mound, Hopper allowed nine hits, four walks, and one earned run.

At the plate, Lloyd led The W with two hits on three appearance and Wilkinson and Watts led the team in RBIs with two each. Other standout Owls were Matthews, Duke, and Martin who each landed a hit to help aid in The W's first win of the season.

Coach Tat Matthew's Thoughts
"We knew today's games were going to be tough. It was the first game for a new program and we opened with a great team in Millsaps who finished second in their conference. To say we were nervous today, would be the understatement of the century. We didn't play our game and just weren't there mentally for game one. However, we did what teams have to do and we made adjustments. In game two, we learned from our mistakes on the field and at the plate. The ladies played their game! We started swinging the bat and the confidence caught on like wild fire! Once we got game one jitters out we played like I knew we could. Cara Hopper held us in the game on the mound and got the first win. She and Brianna Duquette worked together as a great battery. I'm extremely proud of the way the ladies bounced back for game two. Coming back after a loss like that isn't easy. It takes guts and determination and we had that in game two."

Up Next
The Owls will travel to Concordia College – Alabama for their first road game of the season. The first pitch of the doubleheader is scheduled for 2 p.m.

To keep up with The W softball and the rest of Owls athletics, visit OwlsAthletics.com and follow the Owls social media pages at The W Athletics on Facebook and @thewathletics on Instagram and Twitter. Show your support for your favorite team by using the #WinEveryDay and #GoOwls.