Gruber pitches complete game as Wildcats beat Avila 6-0

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Gruber pitches complete game as Wildcats beat Avila 6-0

Story by Kyle Davis

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For the first time in her Baker career, freshman pitcher Heather Gruber walked off the mound at the end of a game with a zero showing in the opponent’s run column on the scoreboard.

Gruber threw a complete game shutout in a 6-0 win against Avila University Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo.

“A win always feels good, but a shutout feels even better,” Gruber said.

The Wildcats and Eagles were only able to get one game in before rain postponed game two until Friday in Kansas City, Mo. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Wildcats.

“It felt really good because we needed something to make us bounce back and play like we know how to play,” junior Annie Hannon said. “Right now, I feel like the whole team is feeling pretty confident about going into Avila and getting a second win off them.”

Gruber allowed eight hits and struck out four against the Eagles. Freshman Tara Heinrich and sophomore Brooke Allen both had hot bats, each going 2-4 at the plate. Heinrich drove in three RBIs while Allen scored two runs and stole two bases.

“Brooke’s one of those anomalies. She’s just naturally athletic and talented and she finds a way to win games,” head coach Matt Windle said. “She’s been our leadoff (hitter) all year. When she’s on base and is running the bases, there’s not much teams can do to stop her.”

Before the Wildcats play the rescheduled game against Avila, Baker traveled to Olathe Thursday to take on MidAmerica Nazarene University, 27-5 and 7-3 in the HAAC. Results were not available at presstime.

Even though Baker will face Graceland University Tuesday at Cavaness Field, Sunday’s home double-header against the University of St. Mary will be senior day for the team’s two seniors, Kelsey Epperson and Chelsi Taylor.

With the makeup game, the Wildcats will play seven games from Thursday to Tuesday with two pitchers, Gruber and sophomore Brittany Vollenweider.

“We were worried about this week with having so many games, but we’ve been really careful all season not to push too hard,” Gruber said. “We do a series of stretching almost every day, we ice almost every day and we’re just in constant communication with the coaches about it.”

Baker is 11-22 on the season and 3-6 in the HAAC, sitting in seventh place as of Wednesday. The Wildcats are a game ahead of Avila, and with the top eight spots in the conference advancing to the conference tournament, a tournament berth is a possibility for Baker.

"Our goal is to basically play ourselves into the conference tournament," Windle said. "If we take care of business, we'll get into that seven or eight spot. But, we've got some pretty stout games left on our conference schedule."<br/>