Archive for Friday, July 22, 2005

Lunatics edged by Illusion at nationals

July 22, 2005

— A case of cold bats and lack of focus.

That's how Lunatics softball coach Terry Denney diagnosed his squad's 5-4 loss to the KC Illusion on Friday during an elimination game at the American Fastpitch Assn. Class B National Tournament.

Denney said he knew his squad was in trouble before the game ever started. Communication problems resulted in half of his team going to the wrong complex (the tournament is spread across three different softball parks in southwest Lawrence). By the time everyone got together at the right field, Denney said his players barely had time to warm up.

"Everything fell apart before we even got here," he said. "By the time we got over here we had 20 minutes left for warm-ups. That's what killed us right there."

The Lunatics looked sharp at the plate in the first inning. They opened up with back-to-back base hits and a walk. A passed ball and a pair of wild pitches allowed three runs to score in the top of the first.

The KC Illusion responded in the bottom of the first with four hits, though. Two runs scored, and suddenly the Lunatics' momentum was snapped. They plated another run in the top of the third, but the Illusion added two more in the bottom of the third and tied the game at 4-4. Neither team scored during the next inning, but during the Lunatics' at-bat the officials announced that time had expired so the fifth inning would be the final inning.

Laura Anderson ripped a two-out base hit and teammate Stephanie Mears tried to score. In a close play at the plate, Mears was called out. The Illusion responded with an eerily similar series of plays in the bottom of the inning. After a leadoff out, the next batter walked. Then came a double to left-center field. The throw home was on target but just a split-second late as the winning run scored.

"It was the worst we've played in two weeks," Denney said after the game.

The loss eliminated the Lunatics from the tournament because they lost their first bracket-play game Thursday night in a 4-1 decision to the Paola Explosion.

"In last night's game, they had back-to-back home runs that scored three runs, and then they scored a run on an error down the third-base line," Denney said. 'If you take those away we'd have won the game."

Denney said he was proud of the way his squad played overall at nationals. The Lunatics went 2-1 in pool play before going 0-2 in bracket play. He said he thought his players would bounce back nicely next week at the USSSA World Series at Mid-America West Sports Complex.

"Now we're going to have a couple days off," he said. "I think defensive-wise we're there. I think we're one of the best teams out there. Hitting-wise, we went into a slump, so Sunday we're going to get in the cage and then go directly to live pitching and tighten up our hitting."

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