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Tiger softball splits Saturday




Fort Hays State University softball coach Erin Kinberger wore an extremely upset expression throughout Saturday's doubleheader against Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University at Tiger Stadium. Senior second baseman Taylor Nelson called the afternoon the most frustrating day of the season for herself and the team.

Fort Hays delivered a lackluster effort and split two contests at Tiger Stadium. FHSU lost the first game, 2-0, and then won the second contest, 6-1. FHSU had multiple problems, including four errors, difficulty with defending the bunt, baserunning mistakes and just three hits in the first game.

"It's extremely frustrating when you lose to a team that you feel you outbeat in every position, every opportunity," Kinberger said.

Southwest Baptist, winless in the conference entering the contests, improved to 8-14, 1-7 MIAA, while Fort Hays moved to 17-7, 5-1 MIAA. The Tigers saw their 11-game home winning streak snapped. FHSU had won the final five home contests of last season and the first six of this year, including a doubleheader sweep of University of Central Missouri (6-1 and 8-2) on Friday.

"We definitely need to work on the mentality coming back the second day strong and not just going through the motions, absolutely, no question," Kinberger said.

Saturday's defeat marked the Tigers' first home loss since a 3-2 non-conference defeat to Southwestern Oklahoma State University on April 12, 2011. In Game 1, junior right-hander Maddie Holub, fourth in NCAA Division II in strikeouts entering the week, struck out 13 against two walks and four hits. However, Holub, who has struck out 155 batters this spring, dropped to 9-5 because of the Tigers' offense and defense.

Fort Hays had just three hits against SBU freshman starter Jessica Colliver (5-8). Colliver entered the game with a 5.15 earned-run average and a .305 opponents' batting average.

"It just seemed like we weren't making an adjustment on the pitches that we were seeing," Kinberger said. "The kid threw a fastball in and fastball out with a little bit of pop and that's it. You just have to make an adjustment. You have to look to be a hitter.

"You can't try to think about where she is throwing you or exactly what happens," she added. "We started thinking about inside pitches only. We kept getting handcuffed because were weren't making an adjustment and she throws out and we would just look at it, or we would just tap at it."

The game remained scoreless until the sixth. Holub was working on a one-hitter when SBU, courtesy of the bunt, scored both of its runs. Junior Jennifer Martinez, the No. 9 hitter, bunted down the third base line. Tiger junior third baseman Chelsey Rottinghaus ran in, but ball ticked off her glove. A passed ball moved Martinez to second.

Then, junior Kassy Williamson bunted to Holub, who threw to first base. Nelson couldn't handle the errant throw. Martinez moved to third. When no one covered second, Williamson sprinted to second.

Then, junior Alandria Jensen bunted to third base. When Rottinghaus threw to first base, Martinez took off for home. After Nelson caught the throw at first base, she threw home, but the throw skipped past Tiger sophomore catcher Callie Wright. Both runs scored.

"They have no bunting form," Kinberger said. "When you have a half swing and you just poke it and you get lucky -- they got lucky on those, and the truth is, that our defense made some mistakes behind us, because it is not your fundamental strategy."

Between games, Nelson noticed the Tigers with their heads down. Several times this year, she has rallied her team with a talk. During between-game batting practice in the batting cage down the third base line, Nelson gathered her teammates.

"It's kind of a mental game and I was just trying to get everybody mentally prepared to win the second game," Nelson said. "We were kind of walking around, still worried about the first game when we should have been worried about coming out and beating them the second time."

In the second contest, Fort Hays junior Kaitlyn Shattleroe (7-1) pitched a complete game, allowing three hits and one run. FHSU scored four runs in the first and two in the fifth. In the third, FHSU had six singles and two sacrifice bunts. Nelson drove in the Tigers' first run with a single. Rottinghaus had a RBI single in the third and a two-run double in the fifth. Still, the win didn't erase the sting of the poor play and the Game 1 defeat.

Fort Hays will play at Lindenwood (Mo.) University on March 23.

"We shouldn't be losing to them," Kinberger said.

Sport Date Opponent Score
2/18 SW Baptist L 66-53
12/1 Oklahoma - Panhandle L 66-60 (OT)