Softball comes to an abrupt end

Norv and Mary Coblentz · Wednesday, July 16, 2014
The Comets' softball season came to an abrupt end July 8 with a 9-5 loss to the Williamsburg Raiders (14-21). The Comets were on their home field, but they were the visitors on the scoreboard. West Liberty finished their season with a 16-13 record.

"I looked at their (Williamsburg's) stats coming in, and I knew if we put pressure on them, they'd make mistakes," West Liberty Head Coach Dave Reynolds said. "I told the girls to come out being aggressive, put the ball in play, and good things will happen. I thought we should have had a lot more runs that first inning, and that might have made a lot of difference. It didn't happen.

"We had a lot of runners on base who didn't score. We've been scoring those runners all year long with two outs. We just didn't get it done tonight. I've got to tip my hat to them. They put pressure on us every inning. We were in trouble every inning. A couple of innings we got out of it, but a couple innings we didn't."

The Comets scored two runs in the top of the first, taking advantage of some errors by the Raiders. Kayla Kaalberg led off and reached first base on an error. Tatum Koenig got a bunt single, and another Williamsburg error led to Kaalberg scoring and Koenig at third base. Audra Bridenstine reached on an error as well, and Koenig scored. Hailey Daufeldt singled to right field, and there were runners at first and second with no outs. But, the next batter hit into a fielder's choice, and Bridenstine was out at third base. Another fielder's choice put runners at second and third with two outs. A groundout to the pitcher ended the half inning. West Liberty had a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the first, the Raiders reached on an error, then a batter grounded out to Haddie Anderson at second base. A bloop single put runners at first and second. An infield single loaded the bases. The next batter put the ball in play. Daufeldt fielded the ball at third base and fired it to Bridenstine at catcher for the force out, preventing a run. The next batter lined out to end the inning.

The Comets were retired in order in the top of the second on a groundout and two pop outs. In the bottom of the second, Williamsburg tied the game. The first batter got an infield single, beating out the throw from the shortstop. The next batter hit a single up the middle, putting runners at first and third. The runner at first stole second base, and the runner at third scored on the throw to second. Another infield single put runners at first and second. A fly out to Koenig in center field was the first out of the inning. The next batter hit into a fielder's choice for two outs and runners at the corners. A single up the middle scored the Raiders' second run. Williamsburg tried a double steal, but Bridenstine fired the ball to Shelby Rock at third base for the third out.

The Comets took the lead back with a two-run third. Koenig led off with a line drive single to right field. Bridenstine reached on an error. Daufeldt hit into a fielder's choice, and Koenig was forced out at third. Both runners advanced on a groundout. Hailey Cox doubled to right field, and Bridenstine and Daufeldt scored. Kyleigh Becker singled up the middle. Cox was tagged out trying for home. West Liberty had a 4-2 lead, but it was short-lived.

The first Raiders' batter in the bottom of the third singled to shallow left field. The next singled up the middle. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third. A fielder's choice made it two out, but a run scored. A double to left center field scored another run. Cox struck the next batter out to end the inning. The score was tied at 4-4.

There was no score by either team in the fourth inning. Rock got a one-out double down the right field line. The Raiders made a nice catch at third base for the second out, and a groundout to third brought up the bottom of the fourth.

The Raiders hit the ball sharply on their first at-bat. Daufeldt, the shortstop, fielded the ball and threw to Merideth Nichols at first for the out. The next batter singled to center field. The next batter hit into a fielder's choice, and the runner was out at second base. The next batter walked. A groundout to Rock at third ended the inning, still tied at 4-4.

The Comets didn't score in the fifth. Bridenstine reached on an error, but a pop out, a fly out and another pop out left her stranded.

The bottom of the fifth was a bad one for the Comets. The Raiders scored five runs. The first batter lined a single up the middle. A sacrifice bunt put the runner in scoring position. A couple of Comets errors loaded the bases. The next batter tripled, and three runs scored. A single up the middle scored the fourth run of the inning. A walk put runners at first and second. A groundout to Daufeldt was the second out. A passed ball scored a run, then a fly out to Becker in right field ended the inning. But the Raiders had a 9-4 lead.

"We've been talking all along that if you can throw enough punches and be the last one standing, that's all it takes," Williamsburg Head Coach Wendy Greene said. "If you put it in play, every team's going to make some mistakes sometimes. It's a matter of who's going to make more, who's going to make those timely hits."

Becker led off the top of the sixth with a triple to right field. Nichols hit a single to left field, and Becker scored. Rock reached on an error, but the courtesy runner running for Nichols had hesitated and was out at second. Rock took second base on a passed ball, but the next batter popped out for the second out of the inning. Koenig drew a base on balls, and Bridenstine reached on an error to load the bases. The next batter grounded out to third, leaving the bases full of Comets.

The Raiders did not score in the sixth. The leadoff batter singled to right field. A sacrifice put the runner at second. The next batter grounded out to Daufeldt, then an infield single put runners at the corners. Koenig made a nice catch in center field for the third out.

The Comets needed runs in the top of the seventh, but they didn't get any. Anderson lined a single past the shortstop to start the inning. The next batter popped out. Becker singled to right field, then a fielder's choice resulted in Anderson being forced out at third. Rock singled to right field to load the bases with two outs, but a groundout to third ended the game with a 9-5 loss for the Comets.

"Going forward, I think we'll be pretty solid," Reynolds said. "I think it's two years away from being real, real solid. I'm looking forward to next year."
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