April 10, 2019Last Monday, the Crawford County softball team fell hard in its first game of the season, a 14-0 loss to visiting Southridge. The Lady Pack had little time to regroup with another game the next day against visiting Clarksville. But regroup they did and in a big way, shutting out the Lady Generals, 17-0.
"It feels a whole lot better than 14-0 last night," Crawford County coach Kim Allen said. "We beat them 17-0 tonight, so that's a much better improvement. It was first-game jitters last night. That's what we're going to say it was."
"Last night, our bats were OK," Allen said. "We weren't getting any good hits, but we were at least putting the ball in play. We had a terrible night in the field. So, we came out early today. We worked on our infield. We made a few little changes that I think will work better. We put Jaci (Kalk) at third and Addy (Simpson) at short. So, we switched those two around, and I think that's going to work better for both of them. We worked on the infielding because that's where we really struggled last night.
"More importantly, I told them to come out and relax. Last night, we came out and we had so many mental errors that these girls don't normally do. I told them tonight to just come out and relax and have a little bit of fun and play ball. They were so tense last night. The weather always has something to do with it. It was cold, and it's always hard to play whenever it's cold. I really wanted them to try to just come out and try to relax."
Clarksville threatened with two runners in the first inning but failed to convert.
The Lady Pack responded with their first run of the game. Simpson went to first on a Clarksville error, stole second, then went to third on a passed ball. With Autumn Kerce batting, Simpson broke for home on a wild pitch, and the Lady Pack drew first blood.
"Addy does that for us because she's the leader," Allen said. "We follow her. I've got a good group of senior girls, and all four of them are good leaders. They've supported all of these younger kids tonight. I've got a younger bunch following them, and it's always contagious. Hitting is always contagious. It seems like if one gets a hit, the others say, 'She gets a hit, I can, too,' and it just goes from there."
Both teams went three up and out in the second inning, and Clarksville left a runner on in the top of the third.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Lady Pack put the Lady Generals farther behind the eight ball. Cheyenne Pierpoint started with a single, then Simpson reached first base on another Clarksville error, moving Pierpoint to third. Maddie Sargent walked but not before Pierpoint scored on a passed ball. Kerce was given a free base on another Lady General error that also allowed Simpson to step on the plate.
With one out, Payton Jones reached first on yet a third Clarksville mistake, scoring Kerce. Kylie Puckett slapped an infield single after Jones and Puckett advanced on a passed ball. Hanaa Ashley grounded out but got an RBI when Jones scored on the play, giving Crawford County a 6-0 lead.
"When one person gets a hit, we just feed off each other," Allen said. "It's contagious."
Clarksville threatened again with two base runners in the top of the fourth inning but failed to get the ball out of the infield in its last two at-bats.
In the bottom of the inning, the Lady Pack had their biggest inning of the game with 11 runs. Pierpoint and Simpson singled, then Sargent ripped a double for two runs. Kerce was given a base on a Clarksville error, and Lori Bockting put two more runs across the plate with Crawford County's second double of the inning.
With one out, Puckett singled. Ashley was then given a gift as Clarksville committed an overthrow that saw the ball go far into right field. Ashley went to a higher gear to cross the plate for three more quick runs.
Crawford County wasn't done yet. With two outs, Pierpoint doubled and Simpson walked. Sargent singled to score the pair. Kerce then walked and Bockting ripped her third double of the day, scoring two more for a 17-0 lead.
Clarksville managed just a single base runner in the top of the fifth inning, and the Lady Pack had the 17-0 win.
"I told these girls at the very beginning of the season that what we don't want to do is go down looking, especially when we've got runners on base," the Crawford County coach said. "Put the ball in play. You do not have to go and score a base hit. You do not have to send it all the way out into the outfield. Put it in play, and good things happen. If you've got a runner on base, if you put the ball in play, you're going to move them around."
Crawford County finished with 10 hits. Bockting had three of those, all for doubles, and Pierpoint had two singles and a double. Puckett also had a pair of singles. From the pitching circle, Pierpoint struck out four and walked two. The Lady Pack had no errors and left three runners on base.
"She looks really good," Allen said of Pierpoint. "She pitched well last night. I put Jaci Kalk in last night to pitch, and she pitched well. Our pitching is good. Cheyenne is looking good. She did well tonight. She was ahead of the batters in the count, and she works better when she's ahead. Sometimes she tends to get a couple of strikes and then get a couple of balls. So, it's always nice for her to get ahead in the count."
Allen said Pierpoint was throwing harder at the end of the game than at the beginning.
"She does do that," she said. "She's got to come out and get a little more relaxed that first inning. Last night, they scored nine of their 14 runs. After that, we kind of calmed down a little bit and did a little bit better. She's just got to come out relaxed, all of them. She does need to come down on the mound. She's got to come out the first inning and relax, because she's got to get better as the game progresses."
Clarksville finished with five hits, Rose Mentfort getting three of those on singles. Shae Bruner struck out six Crawford County batters and walked four. The Lady Generals finished with six errors and left seven runners on base.
Some of the Crawford County strikeouts came by watching the last strike go back. Allen said she wants her team to be more aggressive at swinging the bats.
"Last year, we left so many runners on base because we'd strike out," she said. "We'd get runners all around the base, then we would strike out. We just have to put it in play. I think all of our batters are really doing that and putting the ball in play."
"We're filling in new girls in new positions, and they're really adapting quite well," Allen said. "Last night was just a little bit discouraging, but that's OK. They didn't show any discouragement tonight."
Clarksville 000 0 0 - 0 5 6
Crawford County 105 (11)X - 17 10 0
W-Cheyenne Pierpoint. L-Shae Bruner. 1B-Mentfort (Clkvl), Gaines (Clkvl), Pierpoint (CC) 2, K. Pucket (CC) 2, Perez (Clkvl), Simpson (CC); 2B-Bockting (CC) 3, Sargent (CC), Pierpoint (CC). Records-Crawford County 1-1, Clarksville 0-2.