Softball seniors fight hard

Norv and Mary Coblentz · Wednesday, July 9, 2014
The West Liberty Comets softball team lost a tough one on senior night to the visiting Bellevue Comets July 1 in 10 innings. The final score was 7-5.

"We got down early, had our chances to win, but we couldn't climb back all the way," West Liberty Head Coach David Reynolds said. "We made a couple base-running mistakes. When you don't take care of business, you don't win. I thought we didn't hit the ball early because I think our pitch selection was bad. We started whacking the ball toward the end and hit the ball hard the last three or four innings. We probably could have won."

This was the final regular-season home game for the team's two seniors: Hailey Cox and Merideth Nichols. "They definitely do a pretty good job," Reynolds said of his seniors. "Really without saying anything, their calmness out there, the kids feed on that. They know that they're in control, and they should be also. Neither one of them are very vocal, but they definitely lead by example."

Each senior spoke about their role as a leader after the game. "With the younger players, you've always got to keep them up," Cox said. "Tonight was a great learning situation for them. I've been in some of these situations where it's a good learning tool for everybody but especially those young players watching the older girls. We're never out of a ball game, and they need to learn that young so when they get older they have the mentality that we can win every ball game, and even if we do get down, there's always a chance to come back."

Nichols agreed, and also looked forward to the post-season. "To get (far) in the playoffs, we're going to have to play a lot of games in a row, push through," Nichols said. "It will be tiring. We'll have to rely on some of those younger players. They've learned a lot this season. I watched a lot of them grow in their batting, their fielding, their confidence. Their confidence at the plate I think has grown a tremendous amount. We'll really be counting on them in the playoffs in tough situations. It's really time to grow up. It's the end of the season, and I think they'll do great."

Bellevue drew first blood in the top of the first for the game. The lead-off batter singled to shallow left field. She took second base on a passed ball, then third on a groundout. She scored on another groundout. The next batter also grounded out to end the half-inning.

West Liberty got that run back in the bottom of the first. Kayla Kaalberg drew a base on balls to lead off. She stole second base. The next batter struck out. Audra Bridenstine reached on an error, to put runners at first and second. Hailey Daufeldt reached on an error, and Kaalberg advanced to third and Bridenstine to second. With Hailey Cox at the plate, Kaalberg scored on a passed ball, and Bridenstine stole third base. Cox grounded out for the second out of the inning, and Bridenstine was tagged out heading home to end the inning with a 1-1 tie.

Bellvue added a run to their total in the top of the third. A lead-off triple to center field was followed by a sacrifice bunt. A pop out and a strikeout brought up the West Liberty third. The home team got a one-out single by Tatum Koenig, and she took second base on a groundout. Koenig was left stranded when the next batter popped out in foul territory.

Bellevue scored one run in the top of the fifth. The first batter grounded out. The next singled and stole second base. She advanced to third on an error and scored on a groundout. The next batter singled, then a pop out brought up the West Liberty fifth. It was one, two, three for West Liberty on a groundout, a strikeout and another groundout.

Bellevue scored two runs and West Liberty three in the sixth inning. The first Bellevue batter hit a single. She advanced to second on a groundout. A double scored the run. The next batter walked, then a single scored another run. The next batter grounded out for the third out. Bridenstine doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth. A single by Daufeldt put runners at first and third. Cox singled, and Bridenstine scored. Haddie Anderson singled, and Daufeldt and Cox scored. Anderson advanced to second on a single by Becker. Anderson went to third and Becker to second on a passed ball. Anderson was tagged out for the first out of the inning. A groundout out and a pop out ended the inning. West Liberty trailed 5-4.

Bellevue got a one-out single in the top of the seventh. The runner was tagged out between first and second for the second out of the inning. A groundout brought up the Comet half of the seventh. They needed a run to keep the game going, and they got it. Kaalberg singled to lead off. Koenig sacrifice-bunted Kaalberg to second base. Bridenstine singled to put runners at the corners. With Daufeldt at bat, Kaalberg took home on a passed ball to tie the game. Daufeldt singled, but a pop out and a groundout ended the seventh inning with a 5-5 tie.

The eighth and ninth innings saw no score. In the eighth, Bellevue got a two-out single to center field, but the next batter struck out. The Comets got a runner all the way to third in the eighth. Merideth Nichols got a one-out single. The next batter struck out for the second out. Kaalberg got an infield single, and Nichols ended up at second. A single by Koenig loaded the bases with two outs, but a strikeout ended the inning with the game still tied at 5-5.

In the ninth, Bellevue got a one-out single. A strikeout and a groundout brought up the bottom of the ninth. The Comets were retired in order on a pop out and two fly outs.

Two runs made it across home plate for Bellevue in the top of the 10th. The lead-off batter drew a base on balls. She advanced to second on a groundout. The next batter also grounded out. A single scored a run. An error put runners at the corners, and the third-base runner stole home before the next batter struck out.

The Comets needed two runs to stay alive, but it didn't happen. Nichols singled with one out in the bottom of the 10th, and Breana Thurness singled to put runners at first and second with one out. Kaalberg singled to load the bases, but a line ball was caught for the second out, and Nichols was forced out for a double play to end the game at 7-5.
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