Connect with us


Monterey softball looking to ‘regroup’ after emotional rollercoaster ends in Game 1 loss



ABILENE, TX — Sometimes one loss can feel like more. The Monterey softball team is determined to make sure Thursday’s result doesn’t.

That will depend on morale, which was flying high for the Lady Plainsmen as the team built a 6-1 lead through four innings.

But just as power hitting boosted Monterey to its advantage, Justin Northwest’s own long ball changed the course of the opening game in the teams’ Region I-5A semifinal series at Abilene Christian’s Poly Wells Field.

The Lady Texans took the wind out of Monterey’s sails with a sixth-inning flurry. After the Lady Plainsmen regrouped and tied the game following an infield miscue, Northwest won 8-7 in eight innings on an error in their favor.

With the series resuming less than 24 hours later, Monterey coach Brian Cronk hopes his team can recapture the enthusiasm shown during the hot start and forget the frustrating finish.

“We’re just going to have to regroup,” Cronk said. “I think that we hit the ball well. Defense, I don’t think we played bad, we didn’t pitch bad. If I don’t get us thrown out a couple times, we have some bigger numbers there. So that’s kind of what I told them. That’s on me. We just have to come back tomorrow with a positive thought in our mind, be good at what we do. We can’t let this one define us.”

The Lady Plainsmen were cruising entering the bottom of the sixth. Monterey’s five-run lead seemed insurmountable the way pitcher Anays Perez and the defense had played. Perez allowed three hits in the first five innings, and no runs since a double steal allowed Northwest to tie the game at 1 in the opening frame.

The Lady Texans offense came alive, sending nine batters to the plate. A leadoff single and two walks loaded the bases with one out, and Josie Copeland drove in a pair with a single to center field.

Down 6-3 with two outs, Carolyn Candahl reached on an RBI infield single. That set up seven-hole hitter Brooke Rutherford for the biggest Northwest hit of the night.

Rutherford’s home run to right-center field gave the Lady Texans their first lead, 7-6, as their dugout erupted in celebration.

The emotions were equal yet opposite for Monterey. Nevertheless, down to their last out, the Lady Plainsmen scraped across the tying run. They got help on a misplayed pop fly.

Tatiana Trotter, who finished 2 for 3 with three RBI and a third-inning homer that made it 4-1, scored from first base when Alexis Lusk’s routine fly ball fell to the turf at shortstop without any real attempt at the game-ending catch.

But Monterey returned the favor with an error in an even more critical spot. With runners at first and second, Perez’s throw to third base on a ground ball went wide, scoring the game-winner.

The Lady Plainsmen plated at least a run in each of the first four innings. But Cronk was critical of himself for sending runners in situations that turned into outs.

“We left runners on, got ourselves thrown out trying to be a little too aggressive,” Cronk said. “I got us thrown out trying to be overly aggressive. As you make mistakes, you wear them. We had a chance to put up some bigger numbers in some of those innings, and we didn’t, so we kind of shot ourselves in the foot.

“At the end of the day, when you look at it, we did the things that we needed to to win early. We just need to finish.”

Now the Lady Plainsmen are tasked with shaking off an emotional rollercoaster. Game 2, is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, back at Wells Field.

“Morale’s a big part of it,” Cronk said. “We have to come back with a short-term memory. We have to come back ready to go. We can’t dwell on this. If you dwell on this and you let this carry on with you, then your season will be over in a hurry.”