Outlaws regaining form at tournament time
Two weeks before the national tournament, it looks as if the Lansing Outlaws softball team is on the verge of playing the perfect game.
The Outlaws (14-11-2) played near-perfect games for most of the five matchups at the AFA State Tournament last weekend at Basehor, but it was the three bad innings that spoiled their chance at a title. They went 3-2 at AFA State, with the two losses coming to the first- and third-place teams. The Outlaws placed fifth.
"None of these teams are any better than us," Outlaws coach Russ Stark said. "We were close to being there, and hopefully with two tournaments left, we can put something together."
The first bad inning didn't come back to haunt the Outlaws because they rallied and won the game. The other bad innings - errors in the fourth inning Sunday against Komotion and the sixth inning against the eventual champion, Topeka Explosion - led to losses.
"We've got to get over those things," Stark said.
Stark said the Outlaws seemed poised to finish the summer on a strong note. They've played solid defense for the most part in the past seven games. Jessica Hauver has hit .500 during that span, Becca Smith-Vandergriff has hit .333 and Maggie Aus has hit .313. Pitchers Jessica Kane, Erika Rios and Dana Sanders have been effective during that time.
Plenty of high points happened throughout the weekend, such as Jessica Stark's spectacular diving catch during the Outlaws' 4-1 victory against the Lady Sox on Saturday, or Kane's one-hitter in the same game.
"We had innings where we came out and we looked like we were unbeatable," Russ Stark said.
Stark said he hoped the Outlaws would bring the same level of enthusiasm to the Mid-America West Sports Complex in Shawnee when they play in the USSSA State Tournament beginning Friday. If they do, he said the Outlaws could bring home a title.
"It's a matter of just putting a complete game together," he said, "and I think they realize that."