CONCORDIA, Kansas — Cloud County Community College sophomore Jordan Ummel is a gamer. She has the "it factor" that can be as much of a cliché as elusive to find.
After a four-week absence due to injury from the pitching circle, Ummel picked up right where she left off in early March, leading the T-Birds to a 1-0 shutout of No. 6 ranked Cowley College in Game One and a doubleheader split.
"It was huge for us. For her to gut it out — we were only going to try and use her three or four innings — it was a very gritty performance," said Cloud County head coach, Aaron Acree. "She wanted to stay in there. The defense played well behind her and Kayla West did a great job calling the game behind the plate."
The victory snapped a five-game skid for the T-Birds (10-16 overall, 3-9 KJCCC) and gave them their second win over a nationally ranked opponent this season. Cloud County defeated then-ranked No. 16 Hutchinson 6-2 back on March 8.
"The win helps build our morale back up a little bit and showed the girls that they can compete with anyone when they put their minds to it," Acree said. "We have to be in the right frame of mind like that in every game."
Ummel, who hadn't pitched since March 16, moved to 5-0 on the season with Tuesday's win and whittled down her miniscule earned run average of 1.50, which ranked third best in the KJCCC entering the day.
She wasn't dominating as she finished with two strikeouts. But she effectively worked her way through the Cowley (25-12 overall, 12-2 KJCCC) lineup with the help of near spotless defense behind her, led by sophomore catcher Kayla West.
West threw out a pair of would-be base stealers in the game, including a caught stealing of a Cowley runner at third base with two on and no one out at the time in the top of the sixth to help extinguish Cowley's threat.
Offensively, a one-out single from Nicole Dinkel got a mini-rally started in the bottom of the fourth inning as she moved to second on a bunt and then scored the game's only run on a RBI single from Ummel flared out to right-center.
"The ball wasn't hit hard, but right in the hole we needed to find," Acree said. "Dinkel read the play well. With two outs and a 0-0 game, you have to go in a game like that."
As for Game Two, Cloud County received solid pitching performances from freshmen Madison Hammond and Alyssa Corpus, but committed four errors defensively and had a few other minor miscues that contributed to an 8-0 loss to the Tigers.
"We misjudged a couple balls, defensively. Our pitchers (Corpus and Hammond) threw the ball well (Tuesday). But we needed to play better defense behind them," Acree said. "We didn't have the same focus for that second game."
Corpus also led the way for the Cloud County offense in Game Two with a pair of infield singles off Cowley starter Ashton Friend.
Cloud County will look to build off Tuesday's split when it resumes KJCCC East action this Friday out on the road against Coffeyville (13-18 overall, 3-9 KJCCC). Game times are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
"Between this weekend and next week, we have a lot of games coming up and I think we can get on a run if we commit to doing things the right way," Acree said. "This split was a start. We got one from a nationally ranked team and hopefully we can get things going again Friday against Coffeyville."