Errors hinder softball again
Considering the Lansing High softball team has nine players back from a team that placed third at state last year, the Lions sure are having their share of early-season troubles.
One of those problems, however, hasn't been senior Jessica Kane's pitching. After tossing a one-hitter in the season-opener, Kane has received little defensive support during her last two outings. Most recently was game one of the Lansing-Bonner Springs series Thursday evening when the Lions hung on for a 9-8 victory in eight innings after an astounding six errors let the Bravettes back into the game.
The problems continued to compound in game two as pitcher Dana Sanders was let down by four defensive errors and a controversial call reversal by the home plate umpire that turned a correct call wrong and led to a Bonner run in Lansing's 4-2 loss.
The continual defensive blunders have frustrated LHS coach Terry Cornett, whose team already has been distracted by two player suspensions, as well as losing one starter to a hand injury and another to illness.
"We can't have six errors, give up three or four runs and expect (to win) because we just don't have the bats," Cornett said. "We haven't as long as I've been coaching as an assistant and a head coach. We just don't have the bats to come back."
The errors have ranged from dropped fly balls, to ground balls rolling through the legs, to overthrowing first base, to mental lapses in judgment when fielding bunts. The constant miscues have become a disturbing trend for a team that was almost flawless defensively last year.
"I was so pleased that they came back and won the first game," he added. But, "I'm just really distraught that they're allowing themselves to play down to that level. We were clearly a much better team, but we allowed them to stay in the game by making six errors."
The Lions (3-3) looked primed to thrash Bonner in game one as they erupted to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. During that inning they batted around and Amanda Darrow, Maggie Aus and Twitchel all scored. The lead grew to 4-0 in the second inning when Nicole Holland scored on Darrow's sacrifice fly to deep center field.
That's when the wheels began to fall off. The defensive errors began to pile up as routine plays became a series of small nightmares. The cozy lead deteriorated and suddenly the Lions were reeling.
"I think we just let our guard down and everyone wasn't playing to their full extent because we thought we had them and we really didn't," Darrow said.
Hot bats by Morgan Chiles, Holland and Darrow kept Lansing alive as it added two more runs in the fourth, but more errors allowed Bonner to keep climbing. In fact, the Bravettes took the lead before a furious two-out rally allowed LHS to force extra innings. Twitchel doubled. Kane added an RBI-single. Then Kane scored when Sanders reached base on an error.
Tied 8-8 in the eighth, Lansing finally polished off the rugged victory when Holland scored on Darrow's double to deep left field.
"She comes to us with a lot of potential, a lot of ability," Cornett said of Darrow's play. "What more can you ask for for somebody her age to come through when we needed her."
Any pop the Lions had in their bats during game one disappeared in game two, but the errors still hung around.
Sanders sparkled early on the mound as she allowed just one hit through the first three innings. LHS took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Emma Hoagland scored on a passed ball. Things fell apart in the top of the fourth, however. Two hits and an error led to two Bonner runs and the LHS lead was history. The Bravettes bolstered their lead to 3-1 in the top of the fifth, but Lansing responded with a run in the sixth when Aus singled and later scored on Sanders' sacrifice fly. Another Bonner run in the top of the seventh pushed the lead to 4-2, and Lansing stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to close the game.
LHS left eight runners on base in game two as it constantly lacked timely hits.
The Lions found a little bit of relief in the return of Twitchel, though. Twitchel, Lansing's starting catcher, smashed two home runs in the season-opening doubleheader sweep of Atchison but missed the Mill Valley series with a sickness that had been feared to be mononucleosis. Twitchel returned Thursday, however, and had four hits in eight at-bats.
"She was a big deal," Darrow said of Twitchel. "She has a great bat and it helps us out a lot."
Twitchel said she is fully healthy now and doesn't expect any relapses.
"I'm good now," she said, adding that the illness spoiled her April 7 birthday.
"It feels good to be back," she said. "I hadn't missed a game ever before that, so that was kind of weird."
The road won't get any easier for the Lions. They travel to Santa Fe Trail for a 4:30 p.m. doubleheader.