Leitke Earns 600th Win; Broncos Sweep the Day
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Head coach Kathy Leitke earned her 600th career coaching victory as Western Michigan softball picked up a pair of wins at the USF Under Armour Invitational on Saturday.
"We needed to get some wins today after a tough day yesterday, that is for sure. Of course the [win] number just says how long I've been doing this. Thank goodness for Jamie [Spitale] and other assistants, staffs and may great teams," Coach Leitke said.
The day began with a 3-1 win over Stephen F. Austin, a team that WMU had never faced but had defeated North Carolina, then ranked No. 23, on Feb. 16. The Broncos loaded the bases in the first on a pair of walks and two batters hit by a pitch, the last being Elisha Handshoe who registered the RBI, plating Diana Patterson to give WMU a 1-0 lead.
SFA scored an unearned run in the third to even the score but that would be the only run allowed by Becca Shemberger in the circle. The sophomore matched a career high with nine strikeouts, earning her second win of the season.
WMU took the lead back for good in the top of the fifth when Jenny Rohn, who is hitting .636 (7-for-11) during the tournament, scored on a Diana Patterson ground out after leading off the inning with a base hit through the right side. The Broncos added an insurance run in the sixth. Melissa Palmer drew a lead off walk and later scored on a Lauren Nagy single to left field.
Stephen F. Austin put the tying run on base and brought the winning run to the plate on an infield single and getting hit by a pitch but Shemberger forced a ground out and got the final batter to strike out looking to end the threat and the game.
Leitke's milestone victory came against Saint Joseph's later in the day. The Broncos roughed up the Hawks to the tune of a 7-1 win. In two all-time meetings against SJU, Western Michigan is 2-0 and has outscored the Hawks, 21-1.
The effort was helped in part by the long ball as Sabrina Gamboa hit her second home run of the season in the third inning and Nagy belted her first career home run in the fifth.
The three-run third inning would be all the offense the Broncos would need as Christina Pigozzi scored when Patterson reached on a fielding error and then Gamboa did the rest.
Nagy pushed it back to a three-run advantage in the fifth. Marleen Rodriguez's second career double and score pushed the advantage to 5-1 in the top of the sixth. WMU scored two more in the seventh. Caity Pixley led off with a walk followed by a base hit to center field with Pixley scoring from first. Rohn mirrored Bogart's hit to center field and Bogart followed suit by also scoring from first to give Western Michigan its winning margin.
Bogart and Rohn both went 3-for-4 against Saint Joseph's, while Nagy and Pigozzi were 2-for-4 and Palmer went 2-for-5.
The Broncos look to close out the tournament with a winning record, currently sitting at 2-2, with a rematch against No. 17/19 Kentucky awaiting them Sunday at 9 a.m.