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One of the longest losing streaks in the history of St. Catharine College softball, a 10 game skid, happily came to an end last week for Holly Smith’s team. And the losing streak was replaced by a four-game winning streak as the Patriots record went to 16-18 overall.
The Patriots began the week with four Mid-South Conference losses to Cumberland (Tenn.) and Campbellsville before sweeping visiting Union College in a non-conference doubleheader. They finished the week with a sweep at conference rival Rio Grande to go 4-4 for the week.
The Patriots are now 6-10 in the MSC which is good for seventh place, one game ahead of eighth place Pikeville and two games ahead of Rio Grande. The top eight teams in the conference will qualify for the Mid-South Conference tournament to be played in Kingsport, Tenn. later this month.
This week is a big one for conference play as St. Catharine is scheduled to play eight MSC games. On Monday they traveled to Cumberlands (Ky.) for a twin bill and that same Cumberlands to Salt River Electric Field for two games on Tuesday. Georgetown visits today for a doubleheader and the Patriots are again at home Saturday for two against Shawnee State.
The St. Catharine Patriots came into Monday’s game knowing that the Cumberland University Bulldogs had one of the best pitching staffs in the conference, led by sub 1.00 ERA pitcher Courtney Maynard. However, Patriots skipper Holly Smith did not fear, for her team was led by conference batting average leader Hagan Goldey and her .511 batting average.
Much to the dismay of the Patriots, Maynard proved to be the victor in game one, compiling ten strikeouts, zero walks, and allowing zero runs over seven innings of play as the Bulldogs (27-12, 9-7) won 8-0 . “She was just really good, it’s going to be very hard to hit her when her stuff is working,” says Holly Smith when asked about Maynard.
Even through the struggle at the plate, the Patriots were able to rally for six of their eight hits in the last three innings of play. “Getting our offense going really carried us into the second game,” says Holly Smith.
Smith is right on, for her Patriots scored four quick runs in the bottom of the first inning in game two led by a two run shot by Chelcie Rein. In fact, the Patriots looked strong until the errors that have plagued them all year came into play during the fourth inning. Krystal Cammuse fired a missile to Taylor Steff, covering first, that was too hot to handle, and eventually led to two unearned runs that would ultimately tie the game at four. Later the Patriots allowed a run to score on a passed ball that ultimately gave the Bulldogs a 6-5 win.
“I’m proud of the way our hitters made the adjustment in the first game and allowed that to transfer to the second game, but the simple mistakes will kill you in the Mid-South Conference. Any Mid-South team can crush you on one mistake,” says Smith. “We have to clean up our play, limit walks, and find a passion for this game. You can’t score four runs early and settle.”
The Patriots (12-16, 4-10) have outscored their opponents 68-33 in the first inning of games during this season but have been outscored 201-176 overall. “We must find effort at every position to have success,” says Smith.
The Patriots ventured to Campbellsville on Tuesday to face the conference leading Tigers (25-9, 15-1). The Patriots were looking to snap an eight game losing streak that had spanned for almost two weeks. Much to their dismay the Patriots were unable to stop the Tigers who had just broken into the national rankings at #25 by losing the first game 8-0 in the five innings and 7-0 in the second game.
“They played like a top 25 team,” says Coach Holly Smith. “We saw better pitching and defense than we had all year,” says Smith of the Tigers who held the Patriots to six hits in the two games. The only offensive bright spot for the Patriots was when Shelbi Thornhill blasted a homerun in the top of the fifth inning of the first game, but even that was erased when the Tigers appealed that Thornhill missed third base. “Shelbi just knew she had hit the bag, but that’s just the way that our day went,” says Smith.
Even with the struggle at the plate, Smith says that she is proud of her defense. “We held Emma Napier, Tigers’ leadoff hitter, to a one hit game in the first game and only gave her one homerun the whole day.”
Napier came into the game boasting a .509 batting average and 14 homeruns, so keeping her off base was a small step in the right direction in the eyes of Smith. “Our defense played pretty good, they just found holes and made great adjustments,” says Smith. “We would throw an outside pitch, they would adjust and hit the ball the other way, and if we want to succeed we have to become better at making adjustments. I still believe that this team can win, it’s just taking some time,” says Smith.
In Friday’s opener against Union College (10-19) the Patriots scored in all five innings in routing the Bulldogs 14-5. They pounded out 14 hits including four homers in the win.
Shelbi Thornhill had two of those round trippers among her three hits. She also had seven RBI’s for the game. Taylor Steff had four hits, scored three runs and knocked in three. Chelcie Rein had three hits including a home run and Brittany McKee homered and had two RBI’s and two runs scored.
Krystal Cammuse was the winning pitcher as she went the distance, allowing three earned runs with three walks and six strikeouts.
St. Catharine had 11 base hits in the second game’s 6-3 win. Hagan Goldey and Steff each had three hits and Ashley Hardin had two. Brandi Hood and Cammuse had two RBI’s apiece.
Hardin was the winning pitcher as she allowed three runs on 12 hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Saturday resulted in two key wins for the Patriots as they put more distance between them and the ninth place RedStorm. The first game was a 10-1 win followed by a 7-5, eight inning victory in the nightcap.
Hardin allowed the RedStorm (15-14, 4-12) only three hits in winning the opener. Goldey, Thornhill, Rein and McKee each had two hits in the Patriots’ 11 hit attack. Cammuse homered and knocked in three runs.
In Saturday’s second game the Patriots overcame a 3-0 deficit to win the eight inning contest. Brandi Hood had three of the Patriots’ 13 hits while Goldey, Steff and Thornhill collected two knocks apiece.
Brittany McKee started in the circle for the Patriots but lasted only 1.1 innings, giving up three runs before giving way to Cammuse who worked the final 6.2 innings. Cammuse gave up two runs on six hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts.