Little base hits causing big problems for Mesa State softball

The Mesa State Mavericks’ softball team has had plenty to celebrate this season, but also plenty of reasons to frown. The Mavs have given up a ton of hits into no man’s land, which have cost them some wins.

One word sums up the Mesa State College softball season so far: bleeders.

You can call them bloop singles, Texas Leaguers, gorks, excuse-me singles, no-man’s land ... to coach Kris Mort and the Mavericks, they’re trouble.

“I have written ‘bleeder’ in the hitting chart notebook so many times this year, I can’t even count,” Mort said. “Bleeder in the 5-6-7 hole, bleeder in the 3-4-9 hole. We work on that, but there are areas of the field that seem to magnetize the ball this year in those little triangle pockets between the two infielders and that corner outfielder.

“We find foul territory by an inch, they hit one and it caroms off the glove of our third baseman. It’s not even funny any more how many of our bleeders don’t fall and how many times I write bleeder in the book.”

Those little base hits that fall in among the third baseman, shortstop and left fielder, or the second baseman, first baseman and right fielder, or dump just over second base in front of the center fielder have cost the Mavericks more runs than they can count.

They work on field coverage and positioning, but there are certain areas you just can’t cover with seven fielders.

This week, the Mavericks will get a few extra days to work on those situations — and to catch up on classes — because their scheduled trip to Chadron, Neb., was canceled Thursday morning just before the Mavs were schedule to leave town because of yet another spring storm.

Mesa State (13-15, 9-13 RMAC) was scheduled to play Chadron State in a doubleheader Saturday and Nebraska-Kearney in a doubleheader Sunday.

Although Mort hates to lose games on the schedule to weather, the canceled trip might be just what the Mavs need.

Last week’s trip to Pueblo was pushed back because of weather and the team missed the entire day of class on Monday — and the games were snowed out.

“It’s getting stressful for the kids academically,” Mort said. “Any time you miss class it becomes increasingly stressful on the girls. They’re all good students, but because they’re good students they tend to get uptight and nervous when they miss classes.”

Senior catcher Meagan Hennessy, who is taking 20 credit hours of upper-level business classes this semester to finish her degree, had to postpone a group project presentation that was scheduled for Monday.

“The professors are really good about working with them, but that only alleviates part of the stress,” Mort said. “They’re not here and they’re not able to prepare.”

Some of that stress carries over to the field, and it only gets worse when those little bloopers and bleeders fall into no-man’s land. Meanwhile, the Mavs have been hitting the ball on the button and it’s a line-drive out, or their bleeders drop into foul territory.

Mort has toyed with the idea of cutting back on fundamentals and hitting drills in favor of scrimmaging more in practice to get extra work on those game situations that pop up.

“We’re probably better off to go out and get more reactionary-instinct practices, but it still doesn’t cover 100 percent of the field,” she said.

The Mavs had a little stress-reducing fun during Monday’s snow day in Pueblo as they waited for the decision on whether they would play.

“They had fun in their snowball fight with Pueblo,” Mort said.

Did they win?

“I think they did,” she said. “They bombarded Shane (Showalter, CSU-Pueblo’s coach) with snowballs. They had a good time, but you’d rather play games.”


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