Errors doom Cardinals in season-opening to Paola
As the Eudora softball team took the field, the players knew they were facing a tough team. As it turned out, the toughest team the Cardinals faced was in fact, the Cardinals.
Two big innings fueled by five errors got the Cardinals' 2006 softball season under way on a losing note as Eudora (0-1) fell 6-4 in its home opener to Frontier League foe Paola.
Eudora got four innings out of starting pitcher junior Brynn Hamilton, and three from senior Karen Spence. They combined to give up eight Panther hits, but allowed only three earned runs, three more scoring thanks to errors.
"We put ourselves in a hole with those errors," Eudora coach Cara Kimberlin said. "Whether or not they were physical errors or mental errors, I don't know. But they are a good team and you can't allow them to get ahead of you like that."
After each team failed to score in the first inning, the Panthers put together their first big inning in the second with three runs on two hits. The Cardinals committed two errors in the inning allowing Paola a 1-0 lead, before Heather Darby drove in two more with a deep single to left field.
The 3-0 Panther lead held up behind pitcher Stephanie Nelson until the bottom of the fourth when the Cardinals put together a three spot of their own.
Sophomore Mackenzie Salzman got things going with a single to right field, before moving to second on a passed ball.
Senior Kelsey Epperson delivered a single, which scored Salzman, getting Eudora on the board.
After Caitlyn Riser walked, freshman Bailey Scott used a sacrifice grounder to move up the runners and senior Laura Williams singled to right, scoring Epperson and Riser to tie the game at three.
"I was glad to see us battle back," Kimberlin said. "Mackenzie did a good job of putting the ball in play and Laura also came through for us. I was pleased with that."
The game wouldn't remain tied for long however, as the Panthers struck back the following inning with three more runs, two of which came on yet another Cardinal error as center fielder Beth Folks dropped a fly ball off the bat of Lindsey Randolph.
The Cardinals mounted a rally in the bottom of the seventh as Scott beat out a throw at first and then stole second.
Spence then came to the plate and promptly delivered an RBI single to cut the lead to two, but a Salzman ground ball ended the threat and the game.
"We'll get better as the innings go on," Kimberlin said. "We need to work on the errors, and as far as the pitching goes, I have really no concerns at this point."
The Cardinals play Anderson County in a doubleheader beginning at noon Saturday in Garnett.