The end of the softball season came on April 3 as the Alpha Omega Delta Lions looked to defend their title as intramural softball champs against the Epsilon Zeta Chi Tornadoes.
The games began at 5:30 p.m. and lasted more than three hours, as the winner was required to win two out of three possible games, with games being played to six innings.
The 79-degree weather with a slight breeze provided the perfect atmosphere for an enjoyable night of softball, both for players and fans. The Lions entered the game with a record of 4-0, while the Tornadoes were undefeated as well at 5-0.
The first game started in Omega’s favor. In the bottom of the first inning, junior Alec Hansen was the first to run across home plate. Teammate Camden Jones, also a junior, followed shortly thereafter to give Omega a 2-0 lead heading into the second. Although Omega held Z to just two runs in the second inning, Z prevented Omega from scoring any runs during the second inning. From there, it was all Zeta Chi.
The Tornadoes quickly jumped out to a 9-2 lead by the end of the third inning, and they expanded that lead by three more runs for a score of 12-2 in the top of the fifth.
Omega showed signs of life in the bottom of the fifth, after senior Will Keller doubled and brought two runners home for Omega to pull them within eight. That hope would be short-lived, however, as the Lions would not score for the rest of the game. The Tornadoes, on the hand, continued to extend their lead and won the first game handily, 21-4.
“We got destroyed in the first game, and nothing seemed to be working,” Jones said. “So we regrouped before the second game, and I looked at everybody and just told them to have fun. We laughed and joked a little, and everybody came out looser and really seemed ready to play.”
Game No. 2 turned out to be a complete turnaround for the two teams. At the start of the game, the Tornadoes’ momentum carried them to an early 3-0 advantage after just one inning. The Lions proved to be persistent, though, and they fought back to within one before holding Z scoreless for the next three innings.
By this time, the momentum had faded from Z’s bench and quickly made its way over to Omega’s side of the field. After batting in the fifth inning, the Lions had extended their lead to ten, at 13-3, before Z was able to stop the bleeding.
The Tornadoes finally found some relief after senior Patrick Beam hit a triple. Two batters later, senior Evan Brondyke smashed a left field drive. Although the ball was caught in the outfield, it ushered in Beam for a much-needed run for the struggling Zeta Chi team.
That would be the last score for Zeta Chi though, who ended up losing the second game 14-4, after another Will Keller double.
Game three was close, and both teams traded runs. The Lions’ first batter, sophomore Vince Wilson, walked before Jones cranked a home run for a quick 2-0 Omega lead. Zeta Chi was able to claim one run in the first along with another run in the second, while preventing the Lions from scoring any further runs until the third inning.
In the top of the third, Omega brought in five more runs, including three off a Conner Welby home run. In the bottom of the third, Z sophomore Kyle Turner also hit a home run, bringing the Tornadoes within two, 7-5.
Z held Omega to just one run in the fourth, as well as adding two of their own to come within one run, 8-7, heading into the fifth inning.
Keller started the Lions off with a single, before Welby hit a pop-fly that was caught for the first out. Then junior Isaac Barcroft smashed a triple, bringing Keller home. Barcroft scored the final run of the game, after a double off the bat of Jonathan Eberle allowed him to make his way across home plate for a score of 10-7, and neither team would score for the remainder of the game.
The Lions’ Keller attributed Omega’s late-game success to all-around better play on both defense and offense.
“The biggest difference between the two games came from us doing a lot better at hitting and fielding,” Keller said. “For hitting, we really were able to settle in, be patient, and hit the ball low and hard. For fielding, we had a lot less errors and were in the right place at the right time.”
Commenting on coming back from a hard first-game loss, Keller said, “We did a good job of staying positive after the first loss. That played a big part to our success in the second and third games as well.”