Two bad innings sank the Smith-Cotton softball team on Monday as S-C lost to Grain Valley 13-2 at Vansell Field to close the regular season.
The Lady Tigers led 2-1 after three but Grain Valley scored five in the top of the fourth and added five more in the fifth.
Smith-Cotton got out of the first inning with no runs allowed as Grain Valley’s Kendyll Bailey led off with a double and Brianna Carter followed with a walk, but Smith-Cotton starter Emma Honn got the next two batters to ground into fielder’s choices and Honn struck out Micheia Gutierrez to end the inning. Honn then retired the Eagles in order in the second. Grain Valley got on the board in the third when Bailey scored on a two-out error.
“Emma did a really good job starting to get ahead in the count late in the first inning,” said Smith-Cotton coach Janeil Draffen. “For three innings, she stayed that way and kept them off balance. After that, she started leaving the ball up a little more and they hit the ball really well.”
Sarah Bergman came on in relief in the fifth and got a groundout to end the inning, then retired the side in order in the sixth before a lead-off triple by Bailey helped Grain Valley score two runs in the seventh.
Smith-Cotton jumped ahead with a run in the second. Darby Christian led off the inning with a single to left and scored on a double to the wall in left-center by Abbey Ahern. The Lady Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the third when Reagan Hockett led off the inning with a sharp hit to center which trickled off the glove of the Grain Valley center fielder, allowing Hockett to reach third. Honn drove her in moments later.
Hockett also drew two walks and singled up the middle in the game. She reached base four times in four trips to the plate.
“We’re still, certain positions, struggling putting the bunt down, but Reagan did a great job leading off her at-bats (Monday),” Draffen said. “We’re getting some people on and hitting the ball hard. It’s the first game that we scored two runs earlier in the innings and held them to four runs by the fourth inning. If you cut it down into innings, we played better than what we have in a while.”
Hockett’s single in the fifth led off the inning and she eventually reached third but a line drive to Bailey at shortstop ended the threat. Ahern reached second an inning later but another line drive resulted in her being doubled off.
Smith-Cotton opens district play on Wednesday against Hickman at 5 p.m. at Battle. Entering districts, Draffen hopes to see the Lady Tigers “decrease our errors, get a better judge off the ball for the outfielders and just keep the ball low and try to be the team that scores first.”
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles