After a shaky outing against Sacred Heart to open Thursday’s triangular, the Thomas More Prep-Marian softball team ended the day with a confidence boost.
TMP (8-6) shook off a 10-7 loss to Sacred Heart by responding with a 5-2 victory over crosstown rival Hays High at TMP Field.
“That was huge for them to be able to (bounce back), because that was not the showing that we wanted in that first game,” TMP-Marian coach Melissa Schoepf said. “I’m proud of them that they did come back.”
The Monarchs were plagued by seven errors during windy conditions in the first game but they made just two defensive miscues in the nightcap and relied on a strong start in the circle from Kyleigh Allen and clutch hits from Sophia Coulter.
“They definitely responded a lot better in that second game,” Schoepf said. “They came back a little more relaxed and ready to play. It just makes a world of difference when you don’t have to battle from errors. You can just play confident and don’t have to be thinking ‘I hope I don’t overthrow the ball, I hope I don’t drop the ball.’ That’s usually when the errors happen.”
Hays High loaded the bases in the top of the first but Allen minimized the damage, with the Indians getting just one run on a TMP error.
The Monarchs tied it up in the second on a Coulter RBI single before taking control with a three-run third inning. TMP scored a pair on back-to-back Indian errors and Coulter’s RBI double pushed TMP’s lead to 4-1.
Hays High cut the lead to 4-2 in the fifth when Madelyn Waddell scored on a wild pitch, but Coulter gave the Monarchs an insurance run with an RBI single in the sixth and Allen kept the Indians off the board the last two frames.
Allen gave up one earned run, four hits and four walks while striking out three. Her defense backed her up in the second game with several solid plays.
“We knew they were going to put the ball in play — that’s just a given. They’re a good hitting team," Schoepf said of Hays High. “They weren’t going to go down swinging or looking at third strikes, so we told the defense that Kyleigh’s going to put the ball where we want her to put it. We knew where to throw the pitches to, and she did that, and then luckily the defense could help her out. That’s what we have to do — we have to put all of it together. We have to be able to pitch to spots, and we’ve got to be able to back that up behind her.”
Coulter went 3 for 3 from the plate with three RBIs in the second game.
“We worked with them on just attacking first pitches, attacking strikes when they’re in there and not letting pitches go by because then you’re at the pitcher’s mercy,” Schoepf said. “When we did get down in the count, we were chasing stuff and going after change-ups. When we went after the first pitch, we were usually successful.”
In the Sacred Heart game, Allen allowed nine runs (five earned) on nine hits in four innings. Sacred Heart outhit TMP 12-10. Grace Martin, Katherine Bergkamp, Chloey Bohm and Emilee Blythe each had two hits for the Knights.
The Monarchs will play host to Plainville at 4 p.m. Tuesday before traveling to Great Bend on Thursday.
“Next week we’ve got a tough week ahead of us,” Schoepf said. “We just have to keep pushing through. We definitely aren’t going to let up on the players, we’re going to keep pushing them in practice, we’re going to keep pushing Kyleigh at pitching and we’re going to keep challenging them to rise above here.”
Hays High went 0-2 on the day, falling 10-6 to the Knights despite rallying for three runs in the seventh to force an eighth inning.
Jaysa Wichers drove in two runs in the bottom of the seventh before Macee Altman kept the Indians alive with an RBI single.
However, the Knights answered with four runs in the top of the eighth, which included RBI hits from Bergkamp, Bohn and Sadie Van Riper.
Wichers allowed 10 runs in the circle against Sacred Heart, but only two of the runs were earned. She gave up five runs with just two earned against TMP.
Hays High will play at Liberal on Tuesday.