The St. Catharine College softball team made a lot of noise in last week’s Mid-south Conference before bowing out with two wins and two losses at Millennium Park in Danville, Ky. Holly Smith’s Patriots topped Shawnee State in the opening game and then bettered UVA-Wise before falling to Lindsey Wilson and Campbellsville.
“We played hard, our players brought it for every game,” said Smith. “We had a chance to win every game we played. We proved that we belong among the best teams in the conference.”
The Patriots finished the season with a 25-33 record which is the most wins since their inaugural season in the NAIA in 2009 when they finished 27-25.
The Patriots overcame deficits of 2-0 in each of their two games on Thursday. In the opener against Shawnee State, Holly Smith’s team stormed back to win 8-2. In the second game St. Catharine rallied for a 5-2 win over UVA-Wise.
In the opener the Patriots cut a 2-0 lead in half in the top of the fourth inning when Brandi Hood (Willisburg, Ky.) singled and scored on an Amber Matteoli Union, Ky.) double. The big rally then came in the fifth frame when the Patriot scored four runs. Matteoli had a run scoring single in the inning, Hagan Goldey’s (Lancaster, Ky.) ground out scored a run and Taylor Steff Louisville, Ky.) had a RBI double.
St. Catharine added three more runs in the sixth inning. Kasie Prather Lancaster, Ky.) single, Goldey reached on an error and Hood drilled a three run homer.
Senior Ashley Cardenas (Santa Ana, Calif.) went the distance for the Patriots allowing the two runs on five hits. She walked one and struck out one.
In Thursday’s second game against UVA-Wise the Patriots found themselves down 2-0 after the Cavaliers plated single runs in the first and second innings off St. Catharine starter Krystal Cammuse.
But St. Catharine took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth inning with three runs. Prather reached on an error to open the inning and Goldey was hit by a pitch. Following a Hood sacrifice bunt Prather scored on a Steff ground out. Then Matteoli lined a home run to right center to put the Patriots up 3-2.
The lead went to the final 5-2 margin when Prather singled with one out in the fifth inning and scored on a long home run by Hood.
Cammuse was the winner as the freshman right hander continually worked out of trouble in the route going performance. Cammuse gave up nine hits but the Cavaliers stranded 10 runners. Cammuse walked three and struck out seven.
The two victories on Thursday took the Patriots into the winner’s bracket finals Friday against Lindsey Wilson. And that game, as many in the tournament, was a homer-fest as the two teams combined for seven round trippers in an 8-4 win for Lindsey Wilson. Five of those long balls were hit by the Blue Raiders (45-12) who led 6-0 after three innings.
But in the fourth frame Shelbi Thornhill (Hardinsburg, Ky.)had a three run shot and Cammuse followed that with a solo homer to make the score 6-4. That, however, was as close as the Patriots would get as Lindsey Wilson added single runs in the fourth and sixth innings.
Starting pitcher Ashley Cardenas took the loss as she surrendered back to homers to open the game before giving way to Matteoli who gave up three runs in two innings of work. Cammuse tossed the final four innings and was touched for three runs.
That loss pitted the Patriots against Campbellsville in an elimination game later Friday. Again the softballs were flying out of Millennium Park as five long flies cleared the fences. The Patriots smacked three of those but the biggest came off the bat of Tigers’ first baseman Heather Oakley whose two-run walk-off gave Campbellsville an 8-6 win.
Cammuse hit a two-run homer to tie the game in the second inning and, after the Tigers regained a two run lead, Matteoli tied the game 4-4 with a two run homer in the fourth inning.
St. Catharine took its only lead of the game when Goldey blasted a two run homer in the fifth inning to make the score 6-4. But Campbellsville (39-21) tied the score in the bottom of the fifth and claimed the victory on Oakley’s seventh inning homer.
The Patriots had just four hits for the game but three left the yard. The Tigers had nine hits off Matteoli who went the distance, walking three and striking out five.
“I wish we could have got the same pitching in the final two games that we had in the first two games,” said Smith. “Granted, those two teams have the best offense in the conference but we still gave ourselves a chance to win each game.”