While the Spirit softball team didn’t come away with a win in the tournament to open the season, they did come away with some valuable lessons.
“We’ve been working on covering the bases when the other team bunts a lot,” said pitcher/shortstop Kelsie Myers.
In the team’s second round robin game against Alliance, errant throws in the infield aided an Alliance victory.
It was from this game that the team learned how to keep the runners contained
“You have to get the ball right back to the pitcher right away,” said pitcher Hannah Evans. “That way the runners have to stay on their bases.”
While the weekend did have its share of mishaps, coaches Mike Holcomb and Tara Russell saw some positives as well.
“We learned to keep our chins up and our heads held high and to play the game all the way through,” said Russell.
The spirit were matched up against provided a tougher matchup than they will see during the season.
Lexington, Alliance, North Platte and Holdredge- all four Spirit opponents- field teams during the fall season and therefore have more experience under their belts.
Considering the competition, Holcomb was pleased with the progress of his team, particulary on the offensive end.
The Spirit connected on 16 of 22 balls against Holdredge in the final game.
“Our strengths as a team is our hitting, our speed, and our overall skill level,” said Holcomb. “We just need to get some more games and get some more reps in. We have smart and athletic kids. We just need to be smarter on the basepaths.”
The Spirit started round robin play on Friday and fell to Lexington by the score of 9-0.
They couldn’t quite get the bats going against the extremely tough pitching matchup. Only three batters reached base on a total of 16 at bats.
On Saturday, the team showed more life at the plate in their second round robin game against the Alliance aftershock.
Myers, second basemen Kassie Russell, left fielder Sydney Holcomb and third basemen Tressa Ripp all recorded at least one hit on the day, but fell short by the score of 8-2.
In their final round robin game, the bats came alive even more. The Spirit scored six runs and held a 6-1 lead over the North Platte Express heading into the 5th inning.
The Express, however, rallied to tie the game at 6-6, where it would end in a tie due to the time limit.
Myers posted a triple and a homerun from the leadoff spot in her three at bats.
Russell went 2-3 with two singles to add to her total and Ripp went 3-3 with a double and two singles.
Catcher Lizzy Griffith and left fielder Hannah Lane, and pitcher Hannah Evans all had two singles on the day.
Broken Bow ended the tournament with a 6-0 loss to the Holdredge Heat in the first round of tournament play.
Ripp had two singles on the day to go with Lane’s double and two singles.
Every Spirit player had at least one hit on the day, but weren’t able to to bring any runs in.
The team showed statistical improvements each game as the tournament moved on.
Having faced tough competition in the weekend tournament, the team will now be better prepared for the opponents they will see during the regular season and districts.
“I think it really prepares us for districts,” said catcher Morgan Hueftle. “When we went to districts last year, we were all shocked because they all steal (bases) and we weren’t used to that. It’s those types of situations that are going to help us for districts and state.”
Their next game and first official game of the season is May 30 against Ravenna at Tomahawk Park.
Results of that game will be posted on www.custercountychief.com