The St. Catharine Lady Patriots (20-26, 9-17) came into Tuesday’s double header at Cumberland University (31-12, 19-4) riding a wave of momentum after picking up a gargantuan win against the Shawnee State Bears. The Patriots were hoping that their trip to Lebanon, TN would produce the same results and keep them on the winning track to the conference tournament. However, much to their dismay they were unable to prevent the mistakes that have plagued them all season to lose 6-1 and 2-1.
During game one, things were looking up as the Patriots took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 3rd inning off the bat of Taylor Steff as her hit drove home shortstop Hagan Goldey. Unfortunately, in the bottom half of the inning things took a turn for the worse as the Patriots surrendered five runs to the Bulldogs to trail 5-1 after three complete. After a leadoff walk the Patriots were unable to make a play on a bunt that would have been a sacrifice, but instead placed runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. After Krystal Cammuse (5-10) was able to get the first out with a pop out, the walks began to pile up. The Patriots allowed back to back to back to back walks that eventually led to the grave digging inning by the Bulldogs.
Despite the struggle to find the strike zone Patriot’s pitching did battle back as Brittany McKee came in the game in relief to retire 10 Cumberland hitters and hold the Bulldogs to 1 run for the remainder of the contest. “I just felt that the zone was nearly impossible to hit. Other than the 3rd inning our pitchers were able to throw strikes the whole game and take care of business,” says Coach Holly Smith. Another bright spot in the contest is that catcher Kelsey Brooks continued her streak of allowing zero runs on passed balls. In fact, it is one the first contests this season that Kelsey has allowed a total of zero passed balls. “I can’t say enough to describe what she has done for us this year. She has stepped up and has been improving over the weeks. In the first contest against Cumberland seven passed balls resulted in runs scored, so allowing none shows tremendous effort for Kelsey,” says Smith.
Although game two produced the same result as the first, it was the product of a Patriot team that can compete with the best. Ashley Hardin (10-8) took the circle for the Patriots and threw four scoreless innings to a Cumberland team that came in batting .314 overall. “Ashley threw another great game today. Once again she showed that she is without a doubt our most consistent pitcher this season,” says Smith.
The Bulldogs were able to take the lead in the bottom of the 5th, but the Patriots rallied to tie it up in their half of the 7th off the bat of Krystal Cammuse to score Taylor Steff. “Krystal was huge in that situation, especially after so many hard hit balls were just unable to get through. I mean, earlier Krystal hits a great ball up the six hole and the shortstop [Kaleigh Pearce] makes a great diving play to get the out off of her knees and Hilary [Dwyer] lines a ball down the left field line only to be robbed on a diving play by the left fielder [Megan Lavery],” says Smith.
Even with the momentum, the hearts of the Patriots were broken when an error in right field by Chelcie Rein led to the winning run to score, even with a great throw by Brandi Hood from center field on the final play of the game. “Just a few more feet in and Brandi is able to throw that girl out. The girl slid through as just as Kelsey was making the tag,” says Smith.
The Patriots will take the field once again Thursday, April 18, 2013 at Salt River Electric Field for a 2 PM double header against the Montreat College Cavaliers (3-27, 1-15 Appalachian Athletic Conference) of North Carolina.