The big hit eluded the Fort Hays State softball team on Saturday against Missouri Western, with the Tigers managing just two runs during a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Griffons.
FHSU left 11 runners on base in a 4-1 loss in the first game and dropped a 5-1 decision in game two after going down in order at the plate in each of the last four innings at Tiger Stadium.
“We just struggled to make an offensive adjustment,” FHSU coach Adrian Pilkington said. “It’s tough when you leave 11 runners on base. It doesn’t take too much; it just takes a certain focus to move and score those kids.”
After handing No. 2-ranked Central Oklahoma its first conference loss on Tuesday, the Tigers (14-15, 7-7 MIAA) looked poised for big innings early, but left the bases loaded in the second and third frames.
“Just getting that one hit would get the monkey off your back there,” Pilkington said.
The Tigers loaded the bases again in the fourth but got just one run out of it after a sacrifice fly from Grace Philop cut the Griffons' lead to 2-1.
Missouri Western starter Kalli Hinds went just two innings before being replaced by Kenzie Hilzer, who went five innings to earn the win for the Griffons (22-14, 9-5 MIAA).
The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the first inning of game two but again couldn’t capitalize. FHSU struggled to get opportunities the rest of the way against Griffons’ pitcher Lexi Kinnaird.
FHSU cut the lead to 2-1 in the third inning on an RBI single from Bailey Boxberger, but Kinnaird retired the last 13 Tiger hitters of the game.
“She was throwing a pretty nice little changeup,” Pilkington said. “The other thing is I don’t think we stayed as disciplined as we could on that rise ball.”
Fort Hays pitchers Michaelanne Nelson and Hailey Chapman each threw a complete game. Nelson gave up three runs seven hits with two walks while striking out seven in the first game. Chapman struck out 11 in the second game, giving up five runs on seven hits with three walks.
“I think our pitchers pretty much go out there and hold their own every game,” Pilkington said. “They work hard for the team. Every once in a while a ball finds a hole or it lands. We just couldn’t give them the offensive support that they needed today.”
Philop and Terran Caldwell each had three hits on the day for the Tigers.
The Tigers entered the day tied with Missouri Western for sixth place in the MIAA standings. The losses dropped FHSU to seventh, four games ahead of eighth-place Lindenwood in the loss column. The top eight teams make the MIAA Tournament.
Fort Hays, which has six MIAA doubleheaders left in the season, will look to bounce back in Sunday’s noon doubleheader with Northwest Missouri at Tiger Stadium.
“Every time we let a game slip away it just puts a little bit more importance on the future games,” Pilkington said. “It is what it is. We just got to keep our focus on the games in front of us and not the ones behind us.”