The Meridian Star
Not much went right for the West Lauderdale softball team Thursday night, as the Knights dropped the first game of their 4A opening-round playoff series against Purvis 11-1.
“We just didn't make plays,” West Lauderdale head coach Cary Luke said. “The kinds of plays we made all year long, we didn't make them today. Purvis hit it well, and we knew they were going to coming into the game. But, if we make plays its a three-run game not a 10-run game.”
After sitting down the Tornadoes in order in the first inning, the Knights appeared off to a fast start. West Lauderdale leadoff hitter Mallory Vance slapped down a single to start the bottom of the first. A batter later, Vance was on third base with one out and Joanna Stewart at the plate. However, Stewart lined out sharply to third and Sarah Lolley grounded out the next at bat to end the inning for the Knights.
“We should have scored,” Luke said. “We had a runner on third with one out and our three and four hitters due up. You have to think you get a run out of that, but we let them get out of it.”
The wheels would begin to fall off for the Knights in the top of the second, as West Lauderdale committed two errors resulting in three Purvis runs. The Knights had a chance to get out of the inning on a double play with runners on first and second, but West Lauderdale shortstop Mallory Turner barely missed on a swipe tag and threw to second base, where Vance dropped the ball to extend the rally for Purvis.
“We had a chance to get out of that inning giving up only one run, but we let it get away from us,” Luke said. “We had a chance to work out of it and instead of one run, we gave up three.
“We played tentative, I don't know why we played like that, especially this far into the season. We played on our heels today.”
Meanwhile, Purvis pitcher Donna Slade was dominant in the circle, using a slow breaking pitch to keep the Knights off balanced at the plate. Slade went all seven innings for the Tornadoes, allowing five hits and one earned run on the night.
“She was spotting the ball, but we knew that,” Luke said. “We had talked about it, and we had a plan for it, but it was like we forgot it when we got out there. Once we got down six or seven runs, we got back to what we were doing, but we still hit the ball right at people when we hit it hard.”
West Lauderdale will now need to win its next two games, as the two teams will play a doubleheader today at Purvis beginning at 5 p.m. After the game, Luke stressed with his girls the importance of moving on from the loss and playing at the level they are capable of.
“It's not like football, we don't wait seven days until we play again,” Luke said. “I told them, if we play tomorrow like we played today, that will be it. If we play like we are capable of we can win.”