Cloud County earns a Sunday split to conclude its annual home tournament

Cloud County freshman pitcher Madison Hammond threw 12 strong innings on Sunday during the final day of the Cloud County Spring Classic
Cloud County freshman pitcher Madison Hammond threw 12 strong innings on Sunday during the final day of the Cloud County Spring Classic

CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College softball team wrapped up its annual Cloud County Spring Classic tournament on Sunday, splitting its final two games with a win over Iowa Lakes Community College and an extra-inning loss to Central Community College-Columbus.

The T-Birds (4-6 overall) rebounded from a tough 0-2 day on Saturday by starting Sunday morning off with a complete performance in their 6-3 victory over Iowa Lakes. 

Freshman pitcher Madison Hammond keyed the victory as she threw all seven innings against the Lakers, allowed three runs on five hits, and struck out two to pick up her second win of the season. The right-hander also added five strong innings in relief against Central in Game Two, allowing two runs in five innings, in the tough-luck loss.

"Madison had great stuff (Sunday), her changeup was on, and she kept hitters off-balanced," said Cloud County head coach, Aaron Acree. "There was really just one tough inning and she pitched a lot today. We have some sore arms and she was a gutsy one."

Cloud County jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Iowa Lakes through the first two innings, highlighted by RBI singles from sophomores Nicole Dinkel and Kayla West, and a perfectly executed double-steal by sophomore Autumn Adams and freshman Payton Gillen.

Adams, who was on first base, took off with the pitch and drew athrow down to second base by the Lakers' catcher, allowing Gillen to scamper home from third base on a delayed steal to spark what was a three-run second inning by the T-Birds.

Sophomore first baseman Jordan Ummel capped Cloud County's scoring with a two-run single in the fourth inning to bump the lead to 6-1.

Ummel, Gillen and Dinkel all finished with two hits apiece, while West led all T-Birds with a spotless 3-for-3 performance at the plate.

Cloud County was poised to win its second game of the day in the tournament finale against Central Community College-Columbus as it rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to take the lead with a three-run fourth inning.

Dinkel and Hammond each drove in runs with RBI singles, and freshman right-fielder Kelsey Bowers added an RBI sacrifice fly to put the T-Birds on top.

The score held until the top of the seventh inning when the Raiders, down to their final three outs, were able to scratch out a run to tie the score and force extra innings.

In the 8th inning, which by rule allows a runner to start the inning on second base, the Raiders were able to take advantage of the rare scoring opportunity against Hammond, taking a 4-3 lead on a RBI double by Taylor Griffith.

Cloud County was unable to answer in the home half of the inning as they went down in order.

The loss was tough to stomach for the T-Birds as they squandered a bases loaded, one-out situation in the bottom of the seventh inning and struggled to find consistency at the plate.

"We have to start hitting, plain and simple," Acree said. "We had plenty of opportunities to score (in Game Two). We need to find a way to come through…We have some mechanics issues and we're just not seeing the ball well right now."

The T-Birds will get Monday off to relax before opening Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference action at home on Tuesday against Hutchinson.

Game times on Tuesday are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

"It'll be nice to get a day off here on Monday then get back to it on Tuesday, weather permitting," Acree said. "Hutchinson is going to be tough. They (Blue Dragons) can swing it. We're going to have to be solid defensively and we're going to have to score runs to stay with them. We are not a team that can play from behind."