Spence’s pitching takes the bite out of Bulldogs
The Eudora Cardinals softball team traveled Tuesday to Baldwin City for its annual beating. No member of the team or coaching staff had defeated Baldwin before.
But it was time to rewrite the history books.
A seven-run seventh-inning explosion earned the Cards an 8-2 victory in game one.
Eudora carried that momentum to game two, cruising to a commanding 7-3 triumph.
"It always feels good to beat Baldwin," head coach Cara Kimberlin said. "This senior class has been beat by Baldwin in everything since seventh grade. I'm sure for them it is a little sweet revenge and nice to be on the winning side for once."
Directly delivering that revenge was Kelly Spence. The senior pitcher allowed just two earned runs in 14 innings -- recording 14 strikeouts to just three walks.
Eudora's breakthrough performance improved its record to 4-0 on the season. Before last season, no Eudora softball team had ever started 2-0. The Cards have once again ventured into uncharted waters.
"I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised we're 4-0 right now," Kimberlin said. "If you would have told me that three or four weeks ago, I would have thought you were crazy."
Eudora began the game like it has so many over the past couple seasons -- slowly.
The Cards finally manufactured a run in the top of the fifth.
Baldwin responded with two runs in the home half of the inning, taking a 2-1 advantage.
A scoreless sixth preceded the sensational seventh.
Spence led things off with a single to left center. Freshman Beth Folks took one for the team, and the Cards were cooking with two on, nobody out.
Another freshman, Brynn Hamilton, officially ignited the rally with an RBI double to left center.
Folks scored on the play, tying the game at two.
Junior Jamie Bowser reached base on a fielder's choice. A moment of indecision on behalf of the young Baldwin pitcher rendered everyone safe and the bases loaded. Junior Kayla Moyer walked to drive in the go-ahead run.
With sophomore Jacqueline Pyle due, the Bulldogs made a pitching change.
Pyle reached first on another fielder's choice. This time the Baldwin second baseman made the wrong choice, as all Cardinals were safe on the play.
Eudora wasn't as lucky with sophomore Kelsey Epperson's fielder's choice. The play at the plate this time was successful.
Junior Alissa Hamilton picked up her teammate with a two-run single. The Cardinal lead was 6-2.
Sophomore Michelle Deluna capped-off the scoring with another two-run single.
Eudora sent 12 runners to the plate in the seventh -- seven of them scored.
An injury and an illness were not enough to halt the Cards' momentum in the second game.
Deluna left with a stomach ailment. Folks stepped right in posting three assists and no errors.
When Bowser had to leave with a sore hand, sophomore and varsity rookie Emily Gloshen took Bowser's spot in left.
Gloshen delivered an RBI double in her first varsity at bat and flashed some leather an inning later with a sensational shoestring catch.
Folks, Epperson and Alissa Hamilton joined Gloshen with RBIs in the five-run fourth. Eudora led 7-1 never looking back.
Eudora completed the sweep with a 7-3 victory that was never really in doubt."The underclassmen are stepping it up and helping at the plate," Kimberlin said. "You get these kids that play varsity and, they take bad hacks at pitches. But Emily had a nice easy level swing.
"Let the pitcher provide the velocity and just get a bat on it," Kimberlin said.
The new faces like Folks and Gloshen aren't the only changes from a year ago, although they are related.
"Probably the biggest difference between this year and last year is I don't see us making the mental mistakes," Kimberlin said. "I hesitate to say that, because I don't want to jinx us, and it doesn't mean that we haven't made any. We've just bounced back from them.
"There were times last year that we just didn't look like we knew what we were doing."
But that was last year.
"Starting off 4-0, 2-0 in league and beating Baldwin has got to give you confidence going into your next game," Kimberlin said. "We have to keep hitting the ball, hope Kelly stays healthy and plays good defense behind her."
Eudora makes the trek to Anderson County Saturday. First pitch is expected at noon.