Another weekend, another series sweep for the Eastern Oregon softball team, which is suddenly on a 10-game winning streak.
And both doubleheaders against Cascade College Conference rival College of Idaho, which included 5-0 and 10-7 wins on Saturday and 2-1 and 7-6 victories Sunday, followed similar trajectory.
The early games both days were battles between the respective staff aces — Hailey Kline for EOU and Colette Robert for C of I. The late games both days saw EOU fall behind early, only to rally with a big inning late.
The EOU offense, which had been humming since scoring just four run in four games — three losses — to Oregon Tech earlier this month, continued its hot stretch of late, scoring 24 runs in the four contest. The Mountaineers are averaging 8.7 runs per game during the winning streak, and have reached 10 runs in six of those contests.
“Everything’s starting to come together,” head coach Erin Dickhausen said following Saturday’s sweep. “(When) we started out the season, we struggled with our defense, but our bats were there. Then we struggled with our bats, but our defense was there. And now it’s all starting to come together. The confidence is coming along with it.”
On Saturday, it was Shevan DeFreitas and Kline who set the table for the Mountaineers in the opening game. DeFreitas used a questionable check-swing call to spark her in the second inning, as she belted the next pitch over the fence for a 2-0 lead.
“It definitely fueled my fire to get a hit,” The EOU first baseman said. “I didn’t necessarily agree with the call but it happens. That’s how the game goes. Me hitting that ball was nice.”
It was the first of three home runs in the opener for the Mountaineers. Maryssa Santi hit a solo shot in the third inning that bounced off the top of the fence and over, and Chelsea Spanier added a two-run shot in the sixth for the five-run lead.
EOU also turned a clutch play on defense. Three straight singles by the Coyotes in the second inning loaded the bases with just one out, but Delaney Atkins lined into a double play to Spanier at third base, which at the time kept the game scoreless.
“Our defense has come a long ways since our first practice this spring,” Dickhausen said. “Right now I’m so confident in what our defense can do.”
Once Kline settled in, she dominated.
“My spins (and) my rise ball, definitely,” Kline said of what pitches were effective. “That thing just flies at the end. All my pitches were definitely working.”
The righty set down the last 13 batters she faced to outduel Robert, and finished with just four hits and two walks allowed while striking out five batters.
“She’s a dominant pitcher. She’s been doing awesome for us,” Dickhausen said.
In the second game, it was EOU’s clutch hitting, with DeFreitas providing the key hit for the doubleheader sweep.
C of I took a 5-0 second-inning lead on a two-run single by Trystin Crofts, and was still up 7-2 after four innings before the Mountaineers’ offense exploded.
A single and two errors loaded the bases with nobody out. Santi then walked to force in a run. An out later, Spanier hit a two-run single, and DeFreitas followed with a three-run home run for an 8-7 lead.
“I really don’t know what to say. My team definitely showed heart on that last game,” DeFreitas said after the second game Saturday. “We could have just rolled over and died, but we showed how much heart we have for this game, and we strung (hits) together at the end.”
Brandi Bowling’s RBI triple and Rayne Spencer’s run-scoring double in the sixth gave EOU some added cushion.
Spencer, Spanier and DeFreitas combined for six hits and seven RBIs in the second game.
Lauren Spencer picked up the win in relief, striking out six batters and allowing just one run on five hits in 2-2/3 innings. Kline worked two innings for the save.
Sunday was a similar story. EOU scored all the runs it would need in the fifth inning of the opener, a second pitchers’ duel between Kline and Robert. Lena Richards scored on a fielder’s choice and DeFreitas hit an RBI single in the fifth for a 2-0 lead.
C of I finally managed a run off Kline in the seventh, a solo home run by Taylor Eakle. Kline, though, shook off the blast to get the win, finishing with her eighth strikeout.
Kline allowed just four hits and walked one batter. Robert nearly matched Kline, striking out seven batter, but she allowed four walks and five hits.
In the final game Sunday, the Coyotes scored four times in the first inning and at one point led 6-1.
EOU tied the game in the bottom of the fifth on three straight RBI singles by Spanier, DeFreitas and Tayler Finch. Madison Barr followed two batters later with a two-run double to tie the score.
Brandi Bowling capped the victory with a walk-off RBI single in the seventh inning to score Bobbi Bertsch, who led off the frame with a double.
Lauren Spencer earned her second win of the weekend, tossing the final four innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts. EOU pounded out 14 hits.
Eastern (14-8 overall, 9-2 CCC) is home again Thursday and Friday when it hosts Carroll College.