Wright’s grand slam, six RBIs help Shockers avoid weekend sweep


Matt Crow

Wichita State junior Mackenzie Wright (10) gestures to the team during their Saturday afternoon matchup with Illinois State. (Mar. 25, 2017)

Wichita State third baseman Mackenzie Wright is known as a softball defensive specialist. Sunday she showcased her offense.

After failing to get hits with runners on base in Saturday’s sweep, Wright ignited the Shockers’ bats against Illinois State on Sunday.

Wright went 2-3 at the plate and drove in six runs, moving into a tie for third on the all-time Shocker list for most RBI’s in a game, to help WSU get back to their winning ways with an 11-3 win at Wilkins Stadium in five innings.

“I just think (this game) shows what she’s capable of doing,” WSU head coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “For her, it’s a confidence booster to know that she doesn’t hit for power a ton, but she’s got it in her when she barrels up to a ball.”

The Shockers went on an offensive tear in the bottom of the second inning, stringing together six hits as a team. Freshman Madison Perrigan crushed a ball over the left field scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning to give the Shockers a 1-0 lead.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Wright hit her first grand slam of the season into left field that opened up the Shockers’ lead to five runs.

“We made some great adjustments (at the plate),” Bredbenner said. “I thought that we had a good game plan going in and everybody kind of just stuck to that game plan of making sure they were getting the pitch that they wanted.”

WSU got the bases loaded up again in the bottom of the third inning, but this time ISU’s defense prevailed. A groundout to shortstop allowed Riley Strandgard to throw the out at home and a line out at second base turned into a 4-3 double play that ended the inning unharmed.

Ashley Malone kept the Shockers rolling with two strikeouts in the top of the fourth, but ISU would string together a pair of base hits that scored a run. The senior from Crete, Nebraska, struck out five batters, reaching 100 strikeouts for the season, while only allowing six hits.

“I had to get ahead in the count,” Malone said. “Yesterday I struggled with that a little bit more. But just getting ahead in the count and keeping the ball low is what we had to do today.”

Two walks a half inning later set up a towering home run in left field by sophomore Laurie Derrico to push WSU out to an 8-1 lead after the fourth inning. The Redbirds responded with a two-run home run by Strandgard in the top of the fifth.

A single from sophomore Mauriana Jamele and a double from senior Macklin Hitz allowed Wright to send them home with a double in right field.

Senior Kelli Spring forced the mercy rule to be put into place, ending the game with a single that gave the Shockers an eight-run lead in the fifth inning.

“We’ve been watching a lot of film on the Valley teams,” Wright said. “I think having a plan and just sticking to it, talking to (assistant) coach (Nicole) Hudson about your plan before you go up to hit helps a lot.”

WSU (17-12) plays a nonconference doubleheader against Missouri at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Wilkins Stadium.

Missouri reached the Super Regionals in the 2016 NCAA Softball Tournament.