The women’s softball team opened its season with a two-game split against Whitworth College Jan 26. After Chapman secured a comeback 8-5 win in the first game, the Panthers lost 9-1 in the second game.
In the first game, Chapman trailed 5-2 before tagging the Whitworth pitching staff for a six-run sixth inning. For freshman first baseman Jordyn Krohn, who knocked in the go-ahead run on a groundout, it was not only the first game of the season and first of a doubleheader, it was the first game of her college career.
The inning was set up with a pair of walks and a single to load the bases, followed by a pair of errors by Whitworth, which turned Chapman’s singles into runs.
With the bases loaded, Krohn laced a grounder to the pitcher, bringing in the go-ahead run for Chapman. Krohn said patience was key in her first Chapman game.
“Find the right pitch to be able to do something productive, that’s about it,” Krohn said. “Just breathe, relax and find something to drive.”
To head coach Janet Lloyd, the key to the win was getting past the first-game jitters.
“We were nervous, the first part of the game,” Lloyd said. “Once we got the nerves out of the way, (we) finally relaxed and did what (we) know how to do.”
Heading into Chapman’s sixth-inning rally, Lloyd implored her team to have smart at-bats.
“I told them to make our at-bats count,” Lloyd said. “Make sure the pitcher is pitching to you, don’t swing at her pitches. Swing at your pitches and be picky.”
Lloyd’s advice paid off, as Chapman improved its plate discipline in the sixth inning, with two of the first three batters drawing walks and later scoring in the inning.
The second game of the doubleheader was more of a one-sided affair, and not in Chapman’s favor. While Chapman opened the scoring with a first-inning run, that was the end of the team’s success.
Whitworth proceeded to score nine unanswered runs, with three in the third inning, four in the fourth and two in the sixth.
Chapman junior starting pitcher Samantha Whalen said she needed to be more adaptable on the mound.
“I just needed to make better adjustments to the umpire’s strike zone,” Whalen said. “I primarily like to stay low. (The umpire) wasn’t calling that so that’s definitely something I’m going to work on in practice.”
On the other side of the ball, the Panthers were unable to scrape runs across against Whitworth freshman pitcher Madelyn Carlson, who threw six innings of three-hit ball with nine strikeouts.
“(Carlson) had a great changeup that we couldn’t hit and kept us off balance,” Lloyd said. “(Whitworth) earned that one.”
Lloyd said she was satisfied with the team’s performance in the comeback win, and added that she has high expectations for Chapman in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“(We want to) get to the conference tournament and win some games this year,” Lloyd said. “We’d love to do better in the conference tournament than we have in the past, win some games and extend our season by one more week.”