Three Rivers softball had a near-perfect day in its first home doubleheader of the season against Coffeyville.
The Lady Raiders got the day started with a 4-0 one-hitter and followed it up with an 11-1, five-inning win in which it was a bad break away from another shutout.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Gracie King tried to catch Sydney Rooks cheating off of third base. Her throw slipped past the third baseman, though, allowing Rooks to score Coffeyville's only run of the day. Adrienne Stucker responded with a strikeout to end the game.
It was the only error of the day for the Lady Raiders, who otherwise executed well defensively, allowing four hits in both games combined. The solid performance by the pitchers in both games helped the Lady Raiders boost their record to 8-1.
"It was funny, we got done last weekend and got canceled on Tuesday, so we got to do a little extra stuff with our pitchers. We spent a little extra time with them this week just to try to clean up a few things," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. "For the most part, they did a lot better job. We've just been giving away a few runs every game, and you know, we're just trying to clean that up and get to where we aren't giving stuff away."
The performances from the pitchers in both games were about as clean as it gets. Abbey Gann pitched a complete game one-hitter in the front end of the doubleheader. She dealt 14 strikeouts and allowed no walks in what was nearly a perfect game in the circle.
Saje Kurpiela pitched four innings in game two, striking out three, allowing two hits and one walk in the win.
"We've been practicing all week, working on our spots and pitches for us," Kurpiela said. "Today, my change-up was working really well. Our defense pulled through today. We all worked really hard together. Our catchers with their framing and placing worked really well, so it all just came together."
Stucker struck out one, allowed a hit and walked a pair in an inning of work. Null still saw a few things he wants to improve on going forward, things he can use as talking points in practice.
"There was a leadoff walk (in the last inning), and that's what we've been preaching to our pitchers, those will kill you," Null said. "It just gave me a little ammo, a little teaching lesson there again, but no, our pitchers were great."
The offense found its rhythm in game two with five runs in the second inning and six in the fourth to take a commanding lead and end the game early.
The lead swelled to double figures after pitcher Kurpiela and the rest of the Lady Raiders defense forced six out in seven batters faced in the next two innings, setting up a big side for the offense in the fourth.
Kristyn Carpenter drilled a leadoff double and was driven home by Allison Pingel's single two at-bats later. Lana Reed drew a walk to load the bases before Loman tallied a single to score King. Elfrink added a two-RBI single, and Campbell and Carpenter both singled to score a run each, putting the Lady Raiders up by double digits.
"We have good hitters," Kurpiela said. "They got us on the inside a bit, but our hitters adjust."
Campbell finished with three RBIs in her spot atop the order. Carpenter went 3 for 4 at the plate, and Elfrink went a perfect 3 for 3 with two RBIs.
Carpenter woke up the offense with a leadoff single in the first game before she scored on an RBI single from King. Bisby capped the scoring in the inning with a solo home run. The fifth inning was much of the same story. Carpenter was again the first Lady Raider to get on base, this time with a one-out single. Bisby later tallied an RBI single, scoring Carpenter. Mary Yandell scored King with a single, and Gann continued her excellent pitching performance to close out a win in game one.
"The hitting game and went," Null said. "First game, we had some good at-bats it seemed like, and then we'd have a couple of bad at-bats. We just couldn't string them together. … Just stopping ourselves every time. (Second game), I thought we did a better job of stringing them together."
With the wins, Three Rivers sets up its first region matchup of the season. The Lady Raiders will host Crowder, which was receiving votes in the latest NJCAA Division I poll. The first pitch of the doubleheader is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.
"I feel like we're moving pretty good," Kurpiela said. "The freshmen, this is our first year, this'll be our first region game altogether, and I think we're all really excited to get playing finally, and it actually means something. Every team is going to be a challenge, but if we show up to play, we should be fine."
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic