By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
They played several close games with Class B and larger Class C opponents last week, but Chase County’s varsity softball team failed to pick up a win.
In a series of six games, they played three close ones against Gering in a double-header and Chadron. Unfortunately, that play didn’t carry over to Saturday where they could garner just six hits in three games at the Grand Island Northwest Tournament.
The varsity team is 3-16 this week with another full week on tap.
After hosting Cozad Tuesday, the varsity has a pair of games at the Gothenburg Tournament today (Thursday), which is held in Ogallala. Chase County’s first opponent there will be McCook (9-9) at 3 p.m., followed by Gothenburg (15-4).
On Saturday, the team will be on the road again to Scottsbluff for a varsity double-header starting at 12 noon.
On Monday, the JVs have a double-header at McCook, starting at 4 p.m. MT.
Just a pair of varsity triangulars remain on the schedule in October before the district tournament arrives Oct. 9-10.
Coach Denise Smith said she has seen good improvement in their pitchers, who have calmed down and are walking fewer batters. That means the defense needs to step up and continue to get better, too, she said, as more hits are coming their way.
It’s a young team, she said, adding, “we are getting a lot of good experience and we will get better.”
After losing to Gering the weekend before in three innings, Chase County played a pair of competitive games with Class B Gering (18-6) on the road Sept. 16.
Chase County lost the pair, 5-7 and 4-9.
In the opener, the teams were knotted 5-5 going into the bottom of the sixth when Gering added two runs on a pair of singles and two Chase County errors.
With Gering up 7-5, Chase County went down in order in the top of the seventh to end the game.
Each team tallied eight hits in the game. For Chase County, Destiny Reinke tripled, while singles were recorded by Katelyn Wheeler (2), Mikaela O’Brien, Emma Bauerle, Emma Mollendor (2), and Megan Engbrecht.
Wheeler was on the mound for the six innings against Gering, striking out six, walking one and giving up eight hits.
In the second game, an early 1-0 Chase County lead in the top of the third was erased by a five-run inning for Gering in the bottom of the inning.
While Chase County put across three more, Gering also plated four additional runs to win 9-4.
The Lady Longhorns had another eight-hit game led by Mollendor, who doubled and singled. Singles were also recorded by Reinke, Wheeler, O’Brien, Josie Peterson, Sarah Allen and Makenna Wallin.
Peterson went seven innings on the mound, striking out five, walking five and giving up 10 hits.
It was another close game with Chadron last Friday on the home Schroeder Park field, but the Lady Cardinals pulled out the 7-4 win.
That game also came after Chase County’s 0-12 loss to Chadron at the Scottsbluff Tournament.
Coach Smith said they had a good showing and was proud of how they played. However, some key base-running errors cost them runs, she said.
Trailing 5-1, Chase County put across three in the third after singles from Mollendor, Allen, Engbrecht and Wheeler.
That pulled the Lady Longhorns within one, 5-4.
Each team put another across in the fourth, but that would be Chase County’s last run. Chadron added one more in the seventh to win by three.
Chase County finished with six hits, singles from Wheeler, Peterson, Andrea Page, Mollendor, Allen and Engbrecht.
Wheeler went the distance, striking out two, walking two and giving up eight hits.
It was a tough day for the team Saturday, losing all three tournament games in Grand Island.
Chase County dropped a 0-14 game to GINW, went down 3-16 to Southern Valley in their fifth meeting this season and fell 4-12 to Boone Central.
Coach Smith said they struggled on offense with just six hits in all three games.
In the opener, Wheeler was the only one recording hits, two singles, against GINW.
The team recorded no hits against So. Valley, and against Boone Central, Reinke tripled, while Peterson, Engbrecht and Jessica Hartman all singled.
Peterson and Wheeler handled the pitching duties all three tournament games.