Toledo Softball and first year head coach Joe Abraham recorded the first win of the season today in an unforgettable 4-0 shutout of Saint Louis on the final day of the Northern Iowa UNI-Dome Classic. Sophomore Erin Hunt broke the UT record for most strikeouts in a single game in route to her first Division I win, and sophomore Kylie Norwood hit a grand slam to end her impressive weekend.
Today was a huge ego boost for Toledo, which struggled through the first couple games of the weekend, dropping the first four contests.
"It's really a burden off of mine and the team's shoulders, especially coming off of four losses," Abraham said. "Getting that first win is important to me personally but it was more important to the team as a whole."
Norwood was a clutch player for the Midnight Blue and Gold all weekend. The sophomore went 8-for-17 (.471) over three days, recording eight hits, eight RBIs and two homers. When it came down to her big moment today, she didn't let the pressure get to her.
"I just tried to play it simple, get one run, and not be bothered by the excitement of having everyone on base," Norwood said. "I just tried to have fun with it."
Norwood added that she was excited because the hit was only her third home run and she felt good about setting her pitcher up in a good spot for when she returned to the circle.
Hunt appeared briefly on Saturday in UT's second game against Drake where she threw 3.2 innings. Today, the Hillsdale transfer went lights out from almost the beginning, earning 14 strikeouts while only giving up two hits.
"Erin struggled for the first inning and loaded the bases, but after that she completely dominated like I know she's capable of doing," Abraham said. "I watched her do it all last year at Hillsdale, and while this is a different level, she's still capable of those types of performances."
"It's really nice to finally get a win," Hunt said afterwards. "We had a rough weekend at first but today our team was hitting the crap out of the ball. Kylie's grand slam was incredible so it felt really nice for it all to finally come together."
How it happened:
• Erin Hunt got the nod for her first career start at UT. Things got hairy quickly as Hunt loaded the bases with three straight walks, but the sophomore gained her composure and struck out the following three to leave the opening inning unscathed.
• The second inning featured the sport's most elusive sight, a grand slam. The Rockets were able to load the bases thanks to singles from Bekah Yenrick and Morgan Paaverud, and a HBP for Raelyn Nyren. Sophomore Kylie Norwood then stepped up to the plate and pounded in a home run on the second pitch of the at-bat to put Toledo up 4-0.
o It was UT's first grand slam since Ebony Garza raked one last season against Kent State on March 31.
• Hunt had a no hitter going through 4.2 innings of work before Kat Lane singled in the top of the fifth to end it. The streak was still record-breaking though, as it was the longest no hit game Hunt has recorded in her collegiate career.
• Saint Louis wouldn't record another hit until the seventh inning when Aubrey Hacke singled up the middle with two outs. The effort was wasted though as the final batter struck out swinging to end the game.
• Hunt broke the UT record for most strikeouts in a single game recording a total of 14, two more than Amy Lokowski earned in a 1999 contest against Detroit Mercy.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Saint Louis 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Toledo 0 4 0 0 0 0 X 4 7 0
W:Hunt, Erin (1-1) L:Wendling (0-1)
Cedar Falls, Iowa - Feb. 8-10
Fri. vs UNI - L, 5-0
Fri. vs Drake - L, 7-0
Sat. vs Drake - L, 11-10
Sat. vs SMS - L, 7-5
Sun. vs Saint Louis - W, 4-0