Maidens have bittersweet trip down the Bitterroot
HAMILTON — With a young, inexperienced team, the Ronan softball coach knew the season would be filled with ups and downs – he just didn’t know they would come in one day.
On a trip down the Bitterroot Saturday, Ronan coach Tom Peterson watched his team start doing the little things it takes to win a game against the Corvallis Lady Blue Devils in a 5-3 much-needed victory. The two-run victory against the Southwestern A Lady Blue Devils snapped a six-game losing streak for the Maidens, but unfortunately they didn’t get much time to enjoy it.
Right after the victory, the Maidens were on the bus for a game in Hamilton, where any momentum from the victory and the hope that maybe the Maidens had turned the corner vanished in the bottom of the first inning, when the Lady Broncs – helped by three Maiden errors in the inning – took a 4-2 lead. The Lady Broncs would add three insurance runs with only one hit in the sixth for a 7-2 victory.
“I was happy. We got a lead and we kept playing until the end of the game. We got girls on base and with a couple of key hits we could’ve blown things open,” Peterson said, explaining the victory against Corvallis.
Against the Lady Blue Devils, Ronan hurler Bethany Colman worked herself out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the first by getting two of her 12 strikeouts in the game. After the first inning, Colman put the Lady Blue Devils down in order until the sixth inning, striking out the side in the second, third and fifth inning. Showing composure above her age, the sophomore would also strike out the side in the sixth after Corvallis had scored two runs and had the tying run and eventually go-ahead run on base.
In the games before the Saturday matchup with Corvallis, Colman’s pitch counts were nearing 140. Before the game, Peterson told Colman that he wanted her to be more aggressive and get ahead of the batters and the hard-working sophomore obliged.
“That’s the thing about Bethany. If you talk to her about something, she’s going to do it,” Peterson said.
The Maidens’ bats started to show signs of life against Corvallis and the offense started to plate some runs. Maiden leadoff hitter Lindsay Clairmont reached base three times and when she was on base the Maidens were able to put the ball in play to move her around the basepaths. Clairmont scored the games first two runs, without a Maiden hit to drive her in. After reaching on a walk in the third, Clairmont came around to score on a Katie Andrews pop-up to right field. Clairmont and Andrews scored in the fifth when Colman hit a grounder to Corvallis pitcher Ashley Johnson and she threw the ball past the first baseman Alex Ewing.
Clairmont finished the game 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs.
“Lindsay is a hard out. She works hard to get on base,” Peterson said.
After the Lady Blue Devils scored two runs in the sixth to make it a 3-2 game. Shortstop Chelsey Bourdon and designated hitter Payge Delaurenti both reached on singles and came around to score on a Lady Blue Devil error after first baseman Brittani Clairmont singled.
The Lady Blue Devils had the tying run on in the bottom of the seventh, but Colman ended the threat to improve to 3-6 and give the Maidens their first victory in their last seven tries.
It didn’t look like the same Ronan team against Hamilton.
“I can’t put my finger on Hamilton,” Peterson said. “After the game, I told them ‘you’re so much better than that,’ it was frustrating to see how they played out there... It’s been a tough season that way.”
Two of the Maidens four hits came in the first inning. Bethany Colman started the two-run, two-out rally with a single and Bourdon followed with a walk. Delaurenti drove them in both with a single, but was thrown out trying to stretch the single into the double. Colman also had a single in the third, but didn’t advance past first base.
The Broncs erased the Maidens’ two-run lead, by banging out four runs in the first. The Broncs were helped by three Maiden errors, a walk and a passed ball in the inning.
“When we are struggling at the plate like we are, it’s hard for us to overcome mistakes like that,” Peterson said.
After the first inning, only one Maiden would get into scoring position. Colman, who was 3-for-3, singled in the top of the sixth. Pinch runner Claire Frank had reached third and was trying to narrow the Lady Broncs’ lead to one run on a Delaurenti fly-out to right field, when she was thrown out at the plate on a bang-bang play to end the inning.
The Lady Broncs, capitalizing on Maiden errors and poor decisions, blew the game open with three runs in their half of the inning – the Lady Broncs only had one hit in the inning, a leadoff single by Rebecca Hood. The next two hitters would reach on bunts after the Maidens were unsuccessful in trying to get the lead runner out. The Maidens (3-8, 0-3) will host Whitefish Saturday at 2 p.m. for a Northwestern A Conference game.