MARYVILLE, Mo. — This season has not gone the way the Bearcats and softball coach Ryan Anderson would have hoped as Friday’s sweep at the hands of Emporia State drops the team to 11-26 overall and 6-18 in the the MIAA — 2-12 in their last 14 games.
“It has just kind of been what has happened this year,” Anderson said. “We get down a couple runs and we struggle getting back. We are struggling getting back into games. We have the hitters to do it.”
The Hornets (25-24, 14-10 MIAA) and the Bearcats battled early with Northwest’s Regan Thompson matching Emporia State’s Montana Mesler pitch-for-pitch and the game remained scoreless going into the third inning.
The third inning proved to be when the defense let Thompson down as a bunt single and a passed ball immediately put a runner in scoring position. A softly hit single gave the Hornets their first run and an error put two runners on before a single made the score 3-0.
“The pitchers didn’t pitch that bad, but it looks bad,” Anderson said.
The second error of the inning allowed the Hornets’ fourth run of the game. Northwest finished the opener with more errors (five) than hits (four).
“We are just struggling to get out of that hole,” Anderson said. “We have that mistake and a run scores, and we don’t know what to do. We have enough upperclassmen that we should know what to do. We can’t get any breaks or anything like that. So that is becoming our excuse. ‘Nothing is going right this year.’ Well, no it is not, but you have to keep playing.”
Emporia State got right back to work in the fourth inning as a single and another Bearcat error got the Hornets on the board again. Thompson recorded a pair of outs, but a single made the margin 6-0 and spelled the end of the day for the Bearcat starting pitcher.
Logan Wenzel gave up an RBI single to begin her outing, but was able to get a fly-out to end the frame.
The Bearcat offense showed its only life of the day in the bottom of the fourth with a lead-off home run from Karli Allen. After senior Kiana Baderdeen drew a walk, Sydne Brashear went deep as well to cut the lead to 7-3.
That Bearcat momentum was short-lived as Emporia State responded in the top of the fifth inning with four runs and they held the Bearcats scoreless in the bottom of the fifth to end the game with a run-rule, 11-3.
The second game didn’t go any better for the home squad and Emporia State jumped on the Bearcats for two runs in the first inning and four in the second off of Northwest starter Rachel Smith.
The Bearcat offense was more productive in the second game with seven hits, but the run production wasn’t there with Emporia State starter Sydney Righi scattering the hits and not allowing a run in her five-inning complete-game.
It was a complete game because the Hornets were able to run-rule the Bearcats again with three runs in the third and one in the fourth for a 10-0 victory.
Three Bearcats finished the day with two hits each between the two games with Brashear, Allen and shortstop Jacee Winn. Winn, a freshman from St. Joseph-Lafayette, has impressed Anderson as she’s been thrown into a big role.
“She is getting some good reps in and getting to play,” Anderson said. “Even in the fall and early spring, she was always having good at bats and that was good to see. She is competing and she is having deep counts, putting the ball in play and taking advantage of those situations.”
The Bearcats will finish their season on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader against Washburn. It will be Senior Day for Bearcat seniors Jaedra Moses, Kenos Sutton, Jaclyn Weydert and Baderdeen.
“All four, they are good people,” Anderson said. “They are easy to be around. Jaedra and Kiana have been here four years and the other two for two years. They want to win and they want to compete. You can’t say every year that you are going to miss four people and you are going to miss the seniors, but we will.”
Anderson hopes for a bounce-back to end the year.
“Just compete,” Anderson said. “By far, it hasn’t been the year that we expected, but we just want to see some competitiveness coming out and just some fight.”