Greyhound first-year head coach Kristin Schalk is happy with the way her team's offense has started to come around, batting well over .300 as a team. She's pleased with the way her defense makes every effort to make plays.
But Greyhound pitchers allowed five home runs, 28 total runs and 24 hits as visiting Pratt swept a Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division doubleheader 13-3 and 15-6 at the Betty Ruth Willard Complex Friday afternoon.
Fort Scott's defense committed only two errors all day, both in the second game. So Pratt's scoring wasn't a case of one error leading to another, then another and another before the dam finally bursts as happened all too often last season, when the Greyhounds went 0-47.
"They make really great plays," Schalk said of her defense. "They make the diving plays. They make the deep-in-the-hole plays. It's the simple, routine ones we need to get a little bit better at."
Fort Scott had just 3 hits in the opener but cranked out 14 in the nightcap, 7 of those in the bottom of the fifth inning as the 'Hounds scored 5 times to prevent the 8-run rule from kicking in, at least for one more inning.
Fort Scott saw Bronson sophomore Jessie Camac go 3 for 4 at the plate in the second game. Kelli Cullor, Kayla Holder and Hailey Foster had 2 hits each.
Foster was one of two pitchers Schalk used. The Concordia, Mo., freshman has had to use a special harness when she pitches to help keep an injury in her non-pitching shoulder from getting worse.
If the pitching comes around, the offense will certainly be there to support it. According to the National Junior College Athletic Association website, the Greyhounds (1-7 East, 1-9 overall) are 24th in the nation in batting average at .352. That's second in the Jayhawk East to Cowley's .385, which ranks 14th in the nation.
The Greyhounds are also 32nd in the nation in on-base percentage (.412) and 33rd in slugging percentage (.467).
"It's not one person," Schalk says. "It's the entire lineup, all nine, 10 of them who get into the game are contributing and are doing a great job."
Camac was tied for 37th in the nation individually, according to the NJCAA, at .500 coming into Friday's doubleheader. Only one of the 14 players tied with Camac has more at-bats this season than she did (18).
But Pratt (4-4, 9-13) was able to take advantage of Fort Scott's pitching problems from the very beginning, scoring 3 times on 2 hits in the top of the first inning. The hits were a double to center and a triple down the left-field line.
The Beavers made it 7-0 after two turns at bat when Samantha Garrison belted a grand slam over the center-field fence.
Fort Scott finally got on the board when Ariel Shirley bashed her first home run of the season in bottom of the inning.
Pratt added 4 runs in the top of the fourth to make it 11-1. Fort Scott got two in the bottom of the frame. Shirley led off with a walk, moved up on Cullor's single and scored when Beaver pitcher Raushell Baca made a throwing error on Leah Zimmerman's bunt. Cullor, who Baca was trying to get out at second, moved to third on the play and scored on an error.
The Beavers put up two more in the top of the fifth inning. When the 'Hounds couldn't respond in the bottom half, the 8-run rule kicked in to stop the contest.
Garrison was 4 for 4 for Pratt, driving in 6 runs. She hit for the cycle as in addition to her home run, she belted an RBI triple in the first, hustled out the shortstop's throw for a single in the fourth and doubled in the fifth.
Cullor had 2 hits for the Greyhounds.
Pratt led 6-0 after its turn in the top of the first inning of the second game. The Beavers hit 2 homers in the inning. Brenda Novelo bashed a 2-run shot to center and Samantha Kettering followed with a solo shot.
Fort Scott got one in the bottom of the inning. Kayla Holder walked with one out, stole second and scored on Cullor's 2-out single.
The Beavers added 2 in the second on Stephanie Seewer's 2-run homer. They put up 1 in the third and 4 in the fourth to make it 13-1.
Pratt pitcher Elizabeth Ortega allowed just 3 hits in the first 4 innings and put the 'Hounds away 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth. But she ran into trouble in the fifth.
Lizzie Aller reached base on a bunt to lead off the inning. She stole second and scored on Holder's hit into right field. Holder scored on Camac's one-out homer to right, bringing Fort Scott within 13-4.
The 'Hounds needed more to keep the game going. Cullor and Shirley followed Camac's round-tripper with singles and each advanced on a wild pitch. They both scored on Malori Gales' 2-out single to right. That closed the deficit to 13-6, which meant the game would go one more inning.
Novelo hit a 2-run homer to center in the top of the sixth. Fort Scott loaded the bases in the bottom half with one out but Ortega got a pop up and a line drive to end the game.
Schalk was happy that her team decided not go out without a fight.
"They have so much heart," Schalk said. "They've been through so much this year. They want to be here, they want to play, they want to win. They have a never-say-die attitude and that's a great thing."
Novelo was 4 for 4 with 5 RBI for Pratt in the second game.
The Greyhounds will face Dodge City at noon today in another division doubleheader. This is the "Strike Out Cancer" event.
Dodge City lost both ends of a Friday doubleheader at Johnson County 10-0 and 8-0 to fall to 2-4 in the division and 7-10 overall.
"They're typically middle of the road in the conference and I think we can definitely take a couple of games tomorrow," Schalk said.
NOTES -- Those looking for scores on the Jayhawk Conference website will note that it has been down since at least Thursday morning. Conference officials have said that until the site comes back up, softball and baseball results will be posted via the conference's Twitter (www.twitter.com/kjcccmedia)....
Dodge City and Pratt are Eastern Division teams along with Hutchinson and Cloud County because all of the conference's Division II schools are placed in the same division. All 10 Eastern Division schools are Division II in softball as well as the Western Division ones just mentioned. Division II post-season seeding is determined by games among those schools as well as independents Brown Mackie and Hesston....
Pratt.............. 340 42x x -- 13 8 3
Fort Scott...... 010 20x x -- 3 3 0
WP -- Baca. LP -- Foster.
HR -- Pratt: Garrison (2nd inn, 3 on, 2 out); Fort Scott: Shirley (2nd inn, none on, one out).
Pratt............. 621 402 x -- 15 16 1
Fort Scott...... 100 050 x -- 6 14 2
WP -- Ortega. LP -- Foster.
HR -- Pratt: Novelo 2 (1st inn., 1 on, 1 out; 6th inn., 1 on, none out), Kettering (1st inn., none on, 1 out), Seewer (3rd inn, 1 on, 1 out); Fort Scott (Camac 3, 5th inn, 1 on, 1 out).