The Columbus East softball team played even with visiting Brownstown Central over the final three innings Tuesday, but a 6-1 deficit after the first four innings proved to be the difference as the Olympians fell 10-6 in their season-opener.
East coach Rusty Brummett was pleased with how his squad kept fighting despite falling behind early in the contest.
“We kept competing right until the very end,” Brummett said. “They never quit once today, and really, we had ourselves in a position that if we get another hit or two in the bottom of the fifth or seventh, we were in position to win the game.”
The Braves were able to take advantage of the scoring opportunities that presented themselves early in the game. In the first inning, Katelyn Gray hit a double and would score off of a Maeleigh Tidd single. After adding a run in the second, Gray blasted a solo home run over the center-field fence in the third. Gray and Tidd added RBI-singles in the fourth.
“We have girls that have a lot of confidence in their hitting,” Brownstown coach Monte Ault said. “About every girl in our lineup got a hit today. Tidd hit the ball well tonight. Katelyn Gray had a great day, as well, at the plate. When we get runners in scoring position, they focus in a little more. Our bats came alive when they needed to.”
“Brownstown was able the get the hits when they needed in big situations,” Brummett said. “I think we gave up too many hits with two strikes. We just have to learn how to shut the door. … If we give up too many runs, someone has to step up and make a play, and I thought we did just that or else the game would not have been as close.”
However, the Olympians had plenty of opportunities down the stretch to mount a comeback. In the bottom of the fifth, with the bases loaded on three consecutive singles, Elyse Babb hit an RBI groundout to score a run. Hayley Smalley hit a deep single to score two more runs to cut it 6-4 after five innings.
The Braves responded right back in the sixth and seventh by adding four more runs to make it 10-4. East’s last bit of hope came in the bottom of the seventh when Kaitlin Wagner singled, Babb walked and Smalley singled to load the bases. Erin Tharp drove in two runs with a double. The Braves recorded the final two outs to end the game.
“I told the girls that we don’t need to play perfect tonight being the first game of the year,” Brummett said. “I do, however, want them to be playing their best when we get to sectional.”