Monica Mueller found herself in an unfamiliar position Thursday at Cougar Softball Field.
Mueller, a senior All-American pitcher for Columbia College, had a three-run lead in the top of the seventh, but the tying run was stepping to the plate.
There were runners on second and third, and her frustrations were multiplying by the second. Rather than submitting to her competition, though,Mueller struck out the next three hitters to end the game.“I just got mad at myself, and I just had to bear down,” Mueller said. “I was telling myself that these girls are not going to score, and they’re not going to get on.”
The Cougars won both games of a doubleheader against the Missouri Baptist Spartans on Thursday, winning the first game 5-2 and dominating the second game 8-0 in five innings.
Before Mueller struck out the side to end the first game, coach Wendy Spratt visited the mound to try and calm down her ace pitcher.
“I just told her that she needed to get her head up,” Spratt said, “that they were feeding off of her being down and that she needed to get tough out there and get it done.”
Mueller had been cruising with a lead in the sixth when Meaghan Crow lofted an opposite field home run with a runner on first for Missouri Baptist (3-7) to close the gap to 5-2.
“It’s always tough to give up runs,” Spratt said, “but she hit a good pitch on a windy day, and it helped her cause, but we stayed strong after that. We came back and we took the field today and we wanted to dominate, and I think we showed that in the second game.”
The second game provided little suspense. The Cougars (8-4) scored two runs in the second inning and five runs in the fourth. Shortstop Ashley Perrigo did the most damage with a two-run triple, and she scored on a Marcy Dotson single one batter later.
Columbia College added another run in the top of the fifth after Missouri Baptist pitcher Tonya Klein walked in a run to give the Cougars an 8-0 lead. Senior pitcher Kerri Gapka set down the Spartans in order in the bottom of the fifth.
Gapka said she loved having the big lead while on the mound.
“That’s the best position a pitcher could be in,” Gapka said. “The first couple of innings, we only had a couple of runs on the board, but then once we got up to eight, the pressure is totally taken off.”
The doubleheader was the first American Midwest Conference games of the season for Columbia College, and Mueller said that it was nice to be able to start quickly.
“We’re a really young team,” Mueller said. “We only have three seniors and we have a lot of new players, so it’s good to start out on the right foot.”
With the second win against Missouri Baptist, Wendy Spratt claimed her 400th victory as coach of the Cougars.
“I didn’t even know that was 400. It feels good, feels like I’ve been here for a long time,” Spratt said while laughing. “I’m glad that if I was going to get 400, it was at home. It’s a great place to do it, and it’s against a conference opponent.”
Columbia College will travel to Fulton this weekend to compete in the William Woods Invitational. Their first game will be against Midland Lutheran, a team the Cougars defeated 10-9 earlier this season.