Archive for Sunday, July 17, 2005

Too much drama: Outlaws fall in extra innings at USSSA State

July 17, 2005

— The Lansing Outlaws softball team had a habit of playing dramatic games during the USSSA State Tournament.

On Sunday, the drama proved to be too much.

The Outlaws (17-14-2) used a late-inning spurt to win their tournament opener on Friday. They dropped a one-run decision Saturday morning despite Jessica Kane throwing a one-hitter. Maggie Aus then hit a walk-off triple during a victory on Saturday night.

On Sunday, there was no late-inning rally, no key hit, no victory. Instead, the KC Impact plated three runs in the eighth inning and the Outlaws didn't have an answer.

KC Impact 3, Outlaws 0.

"Defensively, we can't gripe," Outlaws coach Russ Stark said. "We're playing pretty solid all the way around. But we're getting runners in scoring position and we haven't been able to move them."

Erika Rios started on the mound for Lansing and she was effective all morning. She allowed a single in the first inning and one more in the second, but then she held the Impact hitless for the next five innings. She had four walks during that stretch, but none of them proved costly.

Meanwhile, the Outlaws did a good job making contact and putting runners on base, but they lacked timely hits once they got runners in scoring position. They stranded two runners on base in the second inning, one in the third, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.

Lansing's best chances to score came in the fifth and sixth and seventh innings. In the fifth, Becca Smith-Vandergriff smashed a leadoff double to left, but she never advanced. In the sixth, Dana Sanders ripped a leadoff single, advanced to second on Melissa Crawford's sacrifice bunt and then went to third on a ground ball, but she didn't score either.

The Outlaws made a strong two-out rally in the seventh when Carolyn McKune doubled to left-center and then went to third on an infield single by Jessica Hauver. Aus came up next and smashed a 2-2 pitch sharply down the line but the Impact third-baseman snagged it on the fly.

"Maggie ripped that ball. I mean, she really (nailed it)," Stark said.

The game was scoreless after seven innings, so it went to tiebreaker international rules and tensions ran high. In international rules each team starts with a runner on second base. That proved to be too much for the Outlaws.

Maggie Aus smashes a line drive at the third baseman in the seventh inning against the KC Impact at the USSSA State Tournament.

Maggie Aus smashes a line drive at the third baseman in the seventh inning against the KC Impact at the USSSA State Tournament.

The Impact's leadoff hitter laid down a bunt. She reached base and the other runner advanced to third. An RBI-single gave the Impact the lead. Then the Outlaws ran a set play to pick off a runner at third. Crawford, the catcher, fired a throw down to Aus who appeared to have easily placed the tag in time, but the field umpire called the runner safe.

"That was tough too, because if they don't score there, that's one, and then we get two behind it. After that, it snowballed," Stark said of the questionable call at a critical moment of the game.

Stark and coach Brian Sanders asked to appeal the call to the home plate umpire because the field ump's view was obstructed by both Aus and the base runner, but the umpire refused to allow the appeal. In a bizarre move, the umpire then ejected Brian Sanders after Sanders agreed not to argue the call further.

Two more singles followed, and both allowed runs to score. The Outlaws then were retired in order to end the game.

The Outlaws close out their season this week at the national tournament in Lawrence. Pool play begins Tuesday with the outlaws playing games at 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Clinton Lake Sports Complex. They'll play their final pool play game at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. When pool play is finished, the tournament will be re-seeded and a double-elimination bracket-play tournament will begin Wednesday afternoon.

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