Late Heroics from Newcomers Lead Leathernecks to Victory


ST. LOUIS, MO – Western Illinois capped off their road trip on Wednesday afternoon at Saint Louis. The Leathernecks picked up a giant victory against a 12-7 Saint Louis squad at their home field. Highlighted by big days from many newcomers, especially in the sixth inning, where four Leathernecks who are all new to the 2024 squad reached base.

Western had a baserunner in every inning of the game, starting in the first where Rylee Boone singled. A theme for the first five innings, Boone was stranded on the basepaths. Lillie Wools got the start in a game where all three Leatherneck pitchers with five or more innings on the year all appeared. Wools walked one in the first and struck out one.

In frame two, a pitch hit Beth Pavy and then stole second base, but she was stranded on the basepaths as well. Wools allowed a second-inning single but also struck out a Billiken in the frame, ending the inning unscathed.

Boone grabbed her second hit of the game in the third, and after a walk from Alvarez, Western threatened to score, but a pop-up ended the inning. After Lillie Wools allowed a third-inning single, senior Emily Price came in to pitch and coaxed an inning-ending double play.

More of the same continued in the fourth inning where Pavy singled, then stole second, and was stranded there without being able to score. Price hit a Saint Louis batter but struck out one as the 0-0 score was maintained into the fifth inning.

After a Valerie Combs single and Rylee Boone reach on fielder’s choice, the Leathernecks looked to take the lead in the fifth inning, but back-to-back strikeouts kept the game in a deadlock. Price forced two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth, but then three consecutive Billiken hits gave Saint Louis a 2-0 lead with just two innings to play.

Beth Pavy reached base for the third different time to lead off the sixth, drawing a walk. After two quick outs, the streak of leaving runners on base looked sure to continue for the Leathernecks. Freshman Sophia Sanchez came in to pinch hit, and she delivered with a single up the middle to bring the lead-taking run to the plate, fellow Malia Robertson. The speedy freshman smashed a triple into left-center field that knocked in both Pavy and Sanchez, tying the game. Yet another freshman, Combs, stepped up to the plate in a high-leverage situation and hit a single that scored Robertson, giving the Leathernecks their first lead of the game.

Another newcomer to the 2024 squad, junior transfer Raven Morrison, came in to pitch in the sixth inning. The Billikens drew a walk and a hit-by-pitch, before executing a double steal to move both runners into scoring position with one out. Morrison came in clutch, striking out one and coaxing a flyout to end the inning. The seventh inning provided even more dramatics, as Morrison walked three batters to load the bases with two outs in the inning. A lineout to left field ended the game, as Morrison picked up her third save of the season.

A tremendous performance against a Saint Louis squad that has fared well in 2024, the youngsters stepped up big in this win. Freshman Lillie Wools and transfer Raven Morrison combined to throw 4.1 scoreless innings. Transfer Beth Pavy reached base in three of her four plate appearances and stole two bases. Clutch hits from the freshman trio of Sophia Sanchez, Valerie Combs, and Malia Robertson all powered a Leatherneck victory that takes Western into their home opener this weekend.

WIU will take on Tennessee Tech on March 16th and 17th at Mary Ellen McKee Field this weekend, with a doubleheader on day one

Copy Provided by Western Athletics Communications

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