During a doubleheader against Colby that took about four and a half hours to complete, Thomas More Prep-Marian softball coach Melissa Schoepf got a chance to pinpoint the areas the Monarchs need to focus on improving.
Fortunately, Schoepf believes those issues can be easily fixed.
The Monarchs dropped the season opener 12-7 after spotting Colby 10 runs in the fifth inning, but TMP regrouped to earn a split with a 13-7 victory in the nightcap on Friday at TMP Field.
“The things we saw, we can fix,” Schoepf said. “We can fix those things easily. The things you can’t fix is lack of intensity or competitiveness, and I think we saw that they are competitive and they are going to be intense, because they could have given up when everything went bad that one inning and pretty much been done for the night. But they continued to battle, so I think that’s a good sign for us.
“Now, if we can take care of these little mistakes that have been very costly — whether it’s mental errors or physical errors — if we can take care of those, we’ve got a shot at beating some people.”
The Monarchs started strong at the plate, jumping in front on a two-run home run from sophomore Emilee Augustine in the bottom of the first inning. TMP led 6-2 heading into the fifth before a few defensive miscues helped fuel Colby’s 10-run fifth.
“We got to produce offense, which I felt like we did a good job of producing offense,” Schoepf said. “But we’re going to have to work a lot harder on defense. We’re going to see the ball in play more. I was pleased with our pitchers, but you can’t give teams five or six outs.
“...They’ve got to kind of learn the game a little bit and learn when it’s a good time to throw and when do we just want to try to keep them on the bases and make the batter do something with it.”
TMP bounced back nicely in the second game, building a 9-1 lead by the second inning. Five Monarchs had multi-hit games in the nightcap. Lexi Gottschalk had a three-hit game while M.K. Dwyer, Kyleigh Allen, Emily Schulte and Emma Pope each had two hits.
Allen went the distance for the Monarchs in the circle in the first game and then pitched the last four innings of relief in the second after Annie Wasinger tossed the first three.
“Kyleigh’s a competitor and she’s hard working,” Schoepf said. “We’re really working hard with her on spins and trying to get spins going on the ball and being able to hit locations. She’s got to kind of figure out how to pitch to batters, how to look at batters and where they’re standing and how their hands are during swings.
"But it’s going to come. I was pleased she was able to come back that second game. You never know, when you start getting hit, how you’re going to be mentally, but she was mentally tough and she was collected and she got ground balls when we needed it and she got strikeouts when we needed it.”
Allen had four hits in the first game while Augstine drove in four runs with her home run and a two-run double.
Schoepf was encouraged with the Monarchs’ outing at the plate and expects to see more progress when the Monarchs get more practice time outside.
“We haven’t got outside enough, but it’s going to happen now where we can see more and try different scenarios and see where we like people in the lineup,” Schoepf said.
Brielle Bange, Emeline Hutton and Kennedy Stanley each had three hits in the first game to lead Colby.
The Monarchs will play a doubleheader at Dodge City on Tuesday.