Cottage Grove High School Softball Coach Cheryl Frieze hates to lose. Unfortunately, that's just what the Lady Lions did on Friday's doubleheader against Sutherlin's Bulldogs. The Lions lost the first game 6-22 and fell to the Bulldogs again 1-11.
"We made good contact," Frieze said. "We made good contact with the ball but we just weren't hitting the gap. But it's a good sign that our hitting is improving and we'll continue to build and improve."
While Frieze has high hopes for continued growth through the remainder of the season, Friday's showing had the Lions failing to make plays at first and third and hitting out of the infield. When they did manage a fly to outfield, the Bulldogs made quick work of it.
Frieze's high hopes did not come without reason during the second game when pitcher Chloe Malmstedt managed to get Sutherlin's lead-off hitter to foul out. Malmstedt ran the pitch count to three and two for the second batter who eventually made it home on singles from number three in the line-up. Malmstedt got the Lion's out of trouble by striking out the next batter and aiding the infield by getting them a line drive to catch for the third out.
The Bulldogs' bats swing hard by the second inning, hitting the holes in the infield and hitting for length in the outfield. Despite the Bulldogs' constant tendency to foul off Malmstedt's pitches, they managed to get on the board quick and capitalize when they had runners in scoring position. Their constant cries of "B-A-T-T-L-E battle for me baby," didn't seem to shake the Lion's but calls from the crowd prompted the infield to back up their pitcher who got in a fair number of strikes in the defeat.
But the Bulldogs did not need to hit to advance. Once on base, the team managed to steal four bases, including home, from the Lions who couldn't get the ball to the bag fast enough. They added four runs in one inning off slow throws to the bag and a failure to turn the play. They figured the Lion's out and kept swinging, adding to their lead.
Cottage Grove did not go down without a fight, however. Kate Johns launched balls to the outfield but couldn't seem to find the Bulldog's weak spot in coverage. Jayla Leach also tried to add to the team's one run but the Bulldogs' quick release of the ball and plays at first wouldn't allow her to advance the bases. Malmstedt wasn't just impressive on the mound. In the box she managed to hit one through the hole in the infield and get on board first before advancing to second on a hit through the same hole by Taylor McVey. Despite being able to get multiple players on base, the inning ended without bringing someone across home plate.
Overall, a miscommunication in base running and fielding robbed the Lions of the chance to add to their run total and squeak by with a win over the Bulldogs. Frieze was heard on the sidelines calling for players to run and watch for the opportunity to advance the bases.
The Lion's managed to get runners in scoring position sporadically, including in the last moments of the game. A walk for Lexie Flaherty who managed to steal second base and score had the crowd hopeful the Lion's would rally. But two quick outs brought the Lion's season to 0-15.
The team will play Junction City in a double header on Friday before coming home to face Sisters on May 2.