PARSONS, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College softball team resumed Region VI action on Thursday, falling 4-0 and 10-1 on the road to a speedy Labette Community College team.
"Labette had a ton of speed and used it well. We probably won't see another team like them the rest of the year," said Cloud County head coach, Aaron Acree. "They are a team that you really have to get their leadoff hitter out and we struggled to do that."
Labette (10-10 overall, 4-0 Region VI) was able to capitalize on early opportunities in Game One, scoring a pair of runs in the first and second innings to take a 4-0 lead before the T-Birds (1-13 overall, 0-4 Region VI) were able to settle in.
Freshman pitcher Mattison Hogrefe was able to keep the T-Birds in the game over the final four innings, keeping the Cardinals off the scoreboard to turn in her longest outing of the season.
Hogrefe pitched all six innings, allowing the four runs on nine scattered hits.
"We settled down and played solid after those first two innings," Acree said. "Mattison gave us a great start and we played good defense behind her. Having that pressure of Labette' speed early on was something we haven't seen, but I was proud of how Mattison and the girls responded."
Unfortunately for the T-Birds, who struck out just twice in Game One, Labette's speed was also on display in the field as Cloud County didn't have much luck finding holes against the Cardinals' defense, finishing with five hits in Game One.
"We hit the ball great. We had three line drives back at the pitcher and we had runners on the majority of the game, but Labette's defense up the middle of the field was fantastic," Acree said. "We hit everything up the middle and they made plays. We were doing the things we could control, but could not get balls through there."
Freshman designated hitter Sarah Mccown continued to impress as she led the T-Birds' offense with a two-hit performance (2-for-3) in Game One, while fellow freshmen Jacie Marcotte (1-for-3) and Kennedy Doherty (1-for-2), and sophomore Kelsey Bowers (1-for-2) all added hits in Game One.
Mccown then produced the Cloud County run in Game Two when she launched her first career home run to center field in the top of the second inning, tying the game at 1-1.
"She smoked it," Acree said of Mccown's home run. "She has continued to make solid contact. We just haven't had many runners on in front of her when we need to and we'll have to switch that up a bit."
Mccown finished 3-for-5 overall on the day and extended her current hitting streak to eight games.
Labette answered with a six-run second inning, though, to take control of the game at 7-1 en route to the 10-1 final.
"We let Labette get runners on base early and again they made us pay for that, especially in the second inning," Acree said. "That got the ball rolling for them in the second game. But the girls aren't down. They know it was just one bad inning that really changed that game."
Freshman catcher Emily Wells (1-for-3), sophomore third baseman Payton Gillen (1-for-3) and sophomore Alyssa Corpus (1-for-1, BB) each added hits for the T-Birds in Game Two to round out the offensive leaders.
In the pitching circle, freshman right-hander Jacie Marcotte pitched two strong innings in relief, allowing one unearned run on one hit while recording a strikeout.
Cloud County will look to bounce back as it gets back on the bus Friday to head out for a doubleheader against Hesston College (5-8 overall, 0-2 Region VI), set to get underway at 4 p.m.
"The defense is doing it's job and I do like how we're swinging the bats. We just have to keep the girls up because I do think we can go on a run here to get back into things," Acree said. "I think we do have a good chance of picking up two wins (Friday). We have to keep our defense solid and if we can come back with good pitching performances, I think things will come to fruition for us."