Lady Bobcats follow Holland to 4-0 week
Starting the season 2-5 was not what anyone on the Basehor-Linwood softball team had in mind. But a little shutdown pitching by Kristal Holland was all it took to turn things around.
The Lady 'Cats went 4-0 last week against Piper and Perry-Lecompton, with Holland getting all four wins, three of them by shutout. In those four games Holland pitched a total of 30 innings and gave up just two runs.
"She's been more focused," BLHS coach Susan Mayberry said of Holland's recent surge. "She has a plan before she gets here."
Never was Holland more important to the Lady 'Cats than she was on Tuesday in the first game against PLHS. The senior was simply dominant on the mound and she had to be to earn the victory in an epic pitchers' duel with Kaws' sophomore Jennifer Ditch.
Both Holland and Ditch got through the first eight innings without giving up a run, although they went about it differently. Ditch only struck out four batters, but she forced the Bobcats to hit it at people and got flawless defense behind her. Holland, on the other hand, just kept mowing people down.
With the all-league pitcher at her best, the Lady 'Cats fielders rarely saw action. By the time she finished the ninth inning, Holland had a line that Roger Clemens in his prime would have been proud of: nine innings pitched, no runs, one hit, 19 strikeouts and no walks. Although she wasn't getting much offensive support, Holland said her mentality never changed as the 0-0 game wore on.
"I just kept pushing the way I was because my teammates were backing me up," she said. "I just kept going hard at it."
In the bottom of the ninth all that hard work finally paid off. Jennifer Sirridge started a rally with a one-out walk and went to third when Chelsea Patton followed her with a double to right center. That brought up Holland with a chance for even more heroics. She played her leadership role to a tee, delivering a clutch single with two strikes that brought home Sirridge with the winning run.
Holland ruined an otherwise outstanding performance by Ditch, who allowed just three hits herself. But the way the early season had gone for the Lady Bobcats, they weren't likely to feel sorry for her.
Before last Thursday's 2-0 and 4-2 wins over Piper, the Lady 'Cats had lost three in a row and were searching for answers.
"We talked about moving forward after Santa Fe Trail," Mayberry said. "We just talked about taking things one game at a time and trusting each other."
The talks obviously had an effect, as the Lady 'Cats swept Piper and completed their sweep of Perry with a 5-0 win in the nightcap Tuesday.
Holland was spectacular again, throwing a seven-inning one-hitter and striking out 10. Offensively it was a total team effort, as eight players had hits and all nine reached base at least once. Sirridge, Patton, Erin Shore and Laura Reed all had two hits apiece.
The four-game winning streak raised the Lady 'Cats' record to 6-5 and was an impressive turnaround after the prior week's 0-3 slide.
"We've been practicing and concentrating on the things we've been doing wrong," Holland said. "We're getting back together as a team. We kind of split up for awhile there, but now we're coming back together."
The Lady Bobcats played a make-up game against Tonganoxie on Wednesday but results weren't available at press time. They resume their season on Tuesday at Field of Dreams. Those games, against Lansing will mark Senior Night and Holland, the team's only senior, will be honored.
Alumni of the softball program will also be recognized. The first game is set for 4:30 p.m.
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