Late rally dooms Eudora
Two bad innings doomed the Eudora Cardinals softball team on Tuesday as the Spring Hill Broncos came to town and swept the doubleheader 3-1 and 10-5.
In game one the Cardinals allowed the Broncos to turn scratch hits and a walk into a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning.
That was all Spring Hill's Amanda Phelps needed. The visiting hurler wasn't overpowering, but kept her defense in the game by getting a torrent of ground balls from the Cardinals.
Eudora's Caitlyn Riser settled down after the first inning to blank the Broncos the rest of the way, but the damage had been done.
The Cardinals managed to get on the board in the fourth inning when junior third baseman Kelsey Epperson singled to right field and then scored on senior Alissa Hamilton's solid double into the right field corner to close the gap to 3-1.
The Cardinals never threatened again.
"Spring Hill's a good team," coach Cara Kimberlin said. "You can't give them any opportunities, because they'll take advantage of them."
Riser (0-2) once again went the distance in a losing effort. Alissa Hamilton continued her hot hitting of late by going 2-for-3 in the opener.
In game two the fortunes of the Cardinals seemed to reverse, as the home team used timely hitting to plate a run in each of the first three innings to take a 3-0 lead. The Cardinals then added a pair of runs in the fifth behind the red-hot bat of Alissa Hamilton, who tripled deep into the right field corner to score Epperson.
On the mound, junior Karen Spence continued to dominate as she held the Broncos' offense to a weak single through four innings.
Spring Hill got a run in the fifth to close to within 5-1.
In the bottom of the fifth the Cardinals were poised to break the game wide open.
Spence led off the inning with a single to right. First baseman Brynn Hamilton followed by reaching first on an infield error. Game two's designated hitter Riser then walked to load the bases with nobody out.
Senior left fielder Jamie Bowser then flied out to right, followed by a strikeout from Kayla Moyer. Mackenzie Salzman lined out to end the threat and a golden opportunity for some insurance runs.
"We just needed a hit to the right side or a sacrifice fly or anything," Kimberlin said. "We can't leave runs out there when you're playing a team like this."
The missed opportunity proved to be costly for the Cardinals.
Spring Hill added a run in the top of the sixth inning to pull within 5-2.
Then the wheels came off.
The Broncos capitalized on a walk, three errors and five hits in the seventh inning to put eight runs on the board and take a 10-5 lead.
The crushing loss also gave the coach an eerie sense of dejvu.
"This reminded me of the regional game last year," she said. "We had two outs in the seventh and gave up two runs to lose the ball game."
Spence had thrown a three-hitter up to that point and was charged with the loss.
The seventh inning meltdown also raised some other problems for the coach.
"We were complacent," Kimberlin said. "We thought we had the game won and we couldn't close the door. We have to play seven innings to win, not six."
Alissa Hamilton finished the game with two hits and is batting .692 in her last four games. Spence helped her cause from the plate with three hits including a triple.
Eudora captured its first win Thursday at Gardner.
Unfortunately it came on the other side of a heartbreaking 5-4 defeat in the final inning of the first game of a doubleheader.
Eudora had just five hits in doubleheader losses to Ottawa earlier in the week, racked up 14 hits in game one. However, the Cardinals couldn't take full advantage of the newfound offense.
The Cardinals took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh behind another strong outing from Riser.
Earlier in the contest Eudora had opportunities to add to the run total with some aggressive base running.
"I was aggressive with the runners in the first game," Kimberlin said. "I sent two of the runners home on hits, one play was close at the plate, the other runner was out by ten feet.
"But I want to be aggressive out there and take advantage of some of the opportunities that we have."
After trailing the game through three innings, the Cardinals tied the game in the fourth and went ahead in the fifth.
Gardner managed to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth before taking the contest with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Catcher Alissa Hamilton went 3-for-4 in the loss, while Riser (0-1) pitched seven innings allowing seven hits and four earned runs.
In the second game, the Cardinals had no such problems rounding the bases.
Eudora's bats remained hot in the nightcap as the visitors pounded out another 10 hits on the way to a decisive 10-1 victory.
Although the offense was a pleasant surprise, the real story came on the mound.
Spence took the hill and shut the Blazers down with a two-hit complete game.
"Everything came together in the second game," Kimberlin said. "Karen pitched a great game."
The Cardinal's benefited from early walks given up by the Blazer pitchers and took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and then added four more in the second inning behind the bat of Alissa Hamilton. She added another three hits in game two to finish the doubleheader with six hits.
Spence (1-0) completed the game with one earned run and five strikeouts.
The Cardinals (1-5) travel Thursday to Baldwin for a doubleheader beginning at 4:30 p.m.