COLUMBUS, Nebraska — The Cloud County Community College softball team returned to the diamond Thursday for the first time since March 17, earning a road doubleheader split against non-conference foe, Central Community College-Columbus.
Cloud County (9-11, 2-4 KJCCC East) showed little signs of rust despite the 12-day layoff, due to back-to-back postponements, as the T-Birds buried the Raiders (7-14 overall) by the score of 10-4 in Game One.
"It was good to get back playing again and the girls came out ready to go in Game One," said Cloud County head coach, Aaron Acree. "We got a great pitching performance from Madi Hammond and the bats were hot."
The T-Birds finished with 13 hits and eight players recorded at least two knocks, led by sophomore outfielder Autumn Adams with a 3-for-5 performance out of the No. 2 spot. Adams added an RBI and three runs scored.
Cloud County and Central exchanged the lead through the first two innings of play, with Cloud County taking a 2-0 advantage in the top of the first inning on RBI singles by sophomore Jordan Ummel and freshman Alyssa Corpus.
After the Raiders answered with three runs in the bottom of the second inning, Ummel got Cloud even again with her first home run of the 2018 in the top of the third to tie the score at 3-3. Ummel finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI in Game One.
The T-Birds' offense was relentless after that as they methodically built their lead with two runs in the fourth, three in the fifth and runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
"We had a lot of nice, timely hitting," Acree said. "We were patient at the plate and getting our hands out to the ball. We looked confident."
On the mound, freshman Madison Hammond delivered a strong start as she went all seven innings, limiting the Raiders to four runs, three earned, on just four hits to earn her fourth win of the season.
"Madi worked ahead in counts and made hitters swing at bad pitches," Acree said. "When you're working ahead in the count, you can do that. She didn't let hits against her affect what she was doing."
Unfortunately, the T-Birds were unable to duplicate the success at the plate in Game Two as they fell 5-1 to the Raiders in the finale.
Cloud County was able to put the ball in play, striking out just once in Game Two, but could not find holes or do damage with runners on.
"I think out of the first nine outs, seven were hit to the shortstop. We were rolling over on the ball," Acree said. "We also weren't able to get the timely hitting we needed. We left runners stranded on second and third twice in the fifth. We weren't swinging at many strikes so we need to find a way to be able to stay disciplined for two whole games."
Freshman outfielder Shania Schraad, who led the T-Birds in Game Two with a 2-for-3 game at the plate, scored Cloud County's run in the top of the fifth. She smashed a one-out double then came around to score on a passed ball.
Cloud County, which committed just one defensive error between the two games, will look to build off the positives from Thursday as it prepares for a busy week next week.
The T-Birds play eight games in five days next week, beginning at 2 p.m. on Tuesday on the road against Kansas City Kansas Community College.
"We'll practice (Friday) and get right back to it," Acree said. "If we can get back to swinging the bats like we did in Game One, and do our part taking care of the things we can do, I think we'll be OK against KCKCC. It's a busy week for us and hopefully the weather will cooperate."