Optimism reigns despite tight loss
It seemed like a crushing loss. Osawatomie rallied to score three runs in the final two innings of the second game of a doubleheader Thursday, stealing a victory from under the nose of the Wildcats.
It would have been crushing too, De Soto coach Sissy Fletcher said -- last year. De Soto took the first game against Osawatomie 1-0 and barely dropped the second, 5-4. It didn't make for the perfect day, but Fletcher said given the steps she continues to see her team take, it was an easy outcome to accept.
"It was good situations for our kids to be in," Fletcher said. "The kids were really upset the lost that game, but they played well.
"We had chances to win that game, but things fell wrong. That's important though, that we're getting chances. Every game they're giving themselves an opportunity to win, and that's great."
Jessica Pennington dominated from the mound in De Soto's first game, a victory that temporarily bumped the 3-3 Wildcats above .500.
Pennington combined her command with the team's solid defensive effort for the win. She struck out only one, but allowed more than one runner per inning only twice.
The junior pitcher has been solid so far this season and was consistent all through last year though -- another sparkling outing didn't come as much of a surprise.
What Fletcher said caught her eye was the Wildcats' willingness to adjust at the plate.
Osawatomie started the game with the same buzz-saw mentality, mowing De Soto batters down with ease. Once the Cats came up for their second and third attempts, however, things began to change.
Out in order in the first inning, the next six De Soto hitters to stride to plate were struck out in the second and third innings.
Jordin Bedore got on thanks to an error and Kira Gonzalez got a hit as De Soto scored its only run of the game.
"The kids really made adjustments after their first time," Fletcher said. "That girl was pretty good and she was throwing the ball high, but they made adjustments and I was really proud of that."
It's a mentality Fletcher said would be even more important over the next week as she expects pitching difficulty to be ramped up. The Cats played again Wednesday against Baldwin, but results weren't available at press time. The team is back in action again Thursday as it heads to Ottawa, then Tuesday at home against Prairie View.
Though Ottawa's superb pitcher from a year ago -- Megan Ramsey -- is now gone, lighting batters up at Missouri State, the Cats will see plenty of high heat in the next week and down the stretch.
If they plan on making serious improvements from last year's dismal record, they'll have to continue the in-game adjustments, Fletcher said.
"A lot of it's the experience. They have played for a few years," Fletcher said. "A lot of our girls are also playing with a lot of confidence now, and that really helps too.
"We'll be seeing more fast pitching for the next two games. We really cranked the ball in that second game (against Osawatomie) and hopefully that will lead us into next week."