Showing some fight: Mort happy with Mavs’ effort in split with UCCS
Losing does not agree with Kris Mort.
No, the Mesa State College softball coach is as competitive as they come and she’s usually in a foul mood after a loss.
And although she wasn’t anywhere close to dancing a jig Saturday night after the Mavericks split with CU-Colorado Springs, Mort was pleased with the look in her players’ eyes after they left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 10-8 loss after winning the first game 10-2.
“I think we saw a light in their eyes, they were confident,” Mort said. “They wanted to be at the plate, they wanted to get the chance. I think we grew as a team quite a bit. I told them, ‘Keep your chins up. I’m really not OK with losing very often, but I think we put a lot of pressure on people and we gained a lot of confidence.’ ‘’
The Mavericks (15-15, 13-15 RMAC) had chances early in the game that could have helped them avoid the seventh-inning drama, but the end of a 12-hour stretch of college softball at Bergman Field (Colorado Mines swept Fort Lewis 4-0 and 5-2 in 11 innings) had fans on both sides cheering wildly.
“I’m really pleased with the fight and the effort they put up,” Mort said. “With two outs, it looked like this thing was over and we refused to die. I’ll tell you what, we put pressure on them that made their blood pressure rise. If we’re going to be in this thing, if we’re going to be worth our salt, that’s the kind of fight you have to have to be there.”
Twice the Mavs rallied to get back in the game after the Mountain Lions (12-26, 9-20) scored six runs in the third inning off Cierra Lard, who fought back after the rough inning, pitching into the sixth and giving the Mavericks a chance.
Down 10-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Sara Jordan and Megan Smith hit back-to-back solo home runs and Whitney Bailey, who drove in eight runs in the doubleheader, singled. Mort put Alaina Brennan into run and Ashlee Duffy laced a single over second base. Brennan hesitated to make sure the ball would fall in, then hesitated again going around second and was thrown out at third.
That hurt, because the next pitch was in the dirt, allowing Duffy, who took second on the throw to get Brennan, to take third. Katie Mitchell hit a couple of deep foul balls out of the yard before striking out.
In the seventh, Lisa Pille grounded out, but Dani Vallie doubled to left-center. Pinch hitter J.J. Johnson smoked a line drive to third for the second out but Gabi Parra doubled to center to score Vallie.
With Jordan at the plate, UCCS reliever Sarah McCauley pitched around her, not giving the Mavs’ powerful designated hitter a chance to hit, then also walked Smith to load the bases.
Bailey just missed on a two-strike pitch, popping out to second.
“Whitney feels bad but I told her, ‘If you don’t have the kind of day you have, we’re not even in this game. Look at the big picture, take the loss and the growth. Whit, don’t be upset, you swung the bat, you didn’t go down looking. You guys are a long way from the guessing, going-down-looking hitters. You swung the bat.’ “
The freshman third baseman hit a pair of three-run home runs, one in each game, and added an RBI single and a sacrifice fly in the opener.
Jessika Anastos was the biggest problem for Lard, hitting a pair of home runs, a three-run shot in that big third inning and a solo home run in the fifth.
In the first game, the Mavs capitalized on scoring chances.
Vallie led off the bottom of the first with a triple and trotted home on Parra’s home run down the left-field line. In the third, Vallie doubled and took third on Lita Romero’s sacrifice bunt. Romero ran through the bag at first and collided with Lara Mathewson, who took the throw toward the back of the bag. When Mathewson hit the ground, Vallie scampered home.
With two out, Jordan doubled to right and scored on Bailey’s base hit to left.
Romero doubled and scored on the back end of a double steal in the fifth, and with one out and two on, Bailey hit her first home run of the day to straightaway center.
“The fight that we had is going to be useful,” Mort said. “That’s the kind of fight we need. I told them, ‘We were down 6-0 in the third, you could have rolled over and gotten run-ruled and been home two hours ago.’ ”