Ryan McEvoy, Media Relations Assistant
WICHITA – Paige Luellen‘s grand slam lifted the Wichita State softball team to a come-from-behind 8-7 victory over Western Illinois University in game two of the Wichita State Tournament at Wilkins Stadium.
Both teams went scoreless through the first but the Leatherneck bats would come alive in the second. Despite a leadoff strikeout, a walk and double got runners on third and second with a single getting two home. Another walk ended the day for Caitlin Bingham in the circle with Hailey Martinezher replacement.
But the Leathernecks were not done and another single and double got three round the bases to push the lead to five; another double to center field made it six and gave the Shockers a mountain to climb.
But climb it they did in the third. A leadoff single from Bailee Nickerson and an error on a Morgan Palmer hit got runners on base. Another error on a Ryleigh Buck hit got Nickerson home before Laurie Derrico crushed a three-run homer over the left field fence to cut the score line to 6-4.
A bizarre half inning in the fourth eventually ended with the lookback rule getting the third out for the Shocker defense; the bottom half started the same way as the third with Nickerson singling through the middle and an error getting Palmer on base but the Shockers couldn’t get her home. Bailey Klitzke took over in the circle in the top half of the inning.
In the top of the fifth the Leathernecks led off with two straight walks but a smart double play from Mackenzie Wright got two outs on the board. However Western Illinois would add on another run with a deep triple into center field pushing the score back to 7-4.
In the bottom half the Shockers would load the bases without getting anyone home. A double from Madison Perrigan was quickly followed by two walks but a foul out in right field got the Leathernecks out the inning unscathed.
Another big defensive play from Wright kept the Leathernecks off the board in the sixth with a diving lineout just in front of third base. In the bottom half the Shockers completed the comeback.
Wright continued her hot run of at-bats, singling into right field. Buck and Derrico singled into center field to load the bases and the stage was set for Paige Luellen. First pitch the senior crushed the ball over the center field fence for the grand slam to give the Shockers an 8-7 lead.
Bailey Lange came in for the save (3rd of the year), a ground out and two swinging strikeouts finishing the game to give Klitzke the win (3-1) and move the Shockers to 12-8 on the season.
Western Illinois and Missouri State again kick off the tournament tomorrow by facing off at 11:00 a.m., the Shockers face the Leathernecks again at 1:30 p.m. and the Bears at 4:00 p.m.