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Van-Far head coach Wes Rowden hoped Van-Far’s EMO-Tournament consolation victory against Clopton would carry the Lady Indians’ confidence into the district tournament.
Van-Far’s softball team went into this year’s Class 2, District 11 Tournament as the No. 5 seed against No. 4 seed Louisiana on Wednesday, October 3 at Elsberry. The Lady Bulldogs knocked off the Lady Indians in the first round with a 7-2 victory to end Van-Far’s season.
Louisiana led in the first after three walks and a single led to two runs for the Lady Bulldogs.
The Lady Indians tied the game at the top of the second when two walks and a fielders choice loaded the bases for the Lady Indians. An infield out scored Van-Far’s first run with a wild pitch scoring the Lady Indians’ second.
Louisiana chalked up two runs in the bottom of the second to hold a 4-2 through the bottom of the sixth when the Lady Bulldogs scored another six runs for the victory.
Payton Willis tossed most of the game allowing Louisiana’s seven runs and seven hits. Willis had six earned runs, six strikeouts, and seven walks. Sarah Sutton was on the mound during Louisiana’s last at-bat and had one strikeout.
Melani Hamlett had two hits. Mackenzie Baumbach and Brooke Johnson each had one hit.
“Our bats were pretty silent for the most part,” Rowden said. “Everyone’s batting averages dropped the last one-third of the year except for two players. Hitting is contagious. We just went into a team slump.”
Falls to Mark Twain
The Van-Far varsity softball squad took a 9-2 loss to Mark Twain in their last regular season game.
The Lady Indians held a 1-0 lead over Mark Twain in the first after Haven Atkinson tripled and scored on a runaway throw.
In the third, the Lady Tigers scored six runs for a 6-1 lead.
Van-Far added its second run in the fourth after Madison Orr, pinch running for Baumbach, took second and then third on two infield outs. She scored on a hit by Johnson.
“We committed six errors in the game and they all hurt us,” Van-Far head coach Wes Rowden said. “We had been playing such good defense but tonight was not our night. Offensively, we had only two hits and 16 strikeouts,” Rowden said, “(Mark Twain) had a really good pitcher and she throws really hard. The strike zone was variable to put it nicely, but still in many circumstances, we were just over powered.”
Payton Willis tossed on the mound allowing 10 hits, three walks, and two earned runs.
Van-Far was 6-15 on the season. Rowden said the Lady Indians’ Achilles heal was the big-inning.
“That’s what hurt us more than anything,” he said. “If you can prevent the big inning, you can be successful. The girls are out there trying, and sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way.”
He said defense was key for the season but at times, Van-Far, with few returning starters for the season, struggled on routine plays.
“Obviously you want to play good defense,” Rowden said. “At times, we looked really good out there and there were some other games where we couldn’t make the routine plays. That hurt us in a lot of games. Experience is a big deal, especially with pitching.”
A new pitching team was also another obstacle for the Lady Indians, though Rowden said Willis tossed well.
“I wasn’t too disappointed with our pitching. As a matter of fact, I was pleasantly surprised. Catching and throwing hurt more than pitching,” he said.
Rowden said Van-Far’s offense was capable of getting runners in scoring position but at times was unable to drive those runners home for the victory.
“We left an awful lot of runners on base,” he said. “We didn’t get the big hit when we needed it.”
Though, Rowden said the Lady Indians held strong, being competitive with some of the tougher programs in the district.
“We played close with teams that we had not traditionally played close,” he said.
With the end of the season, the Lady Indians sent off seniors Samantha Lenk, Kambrie Hartsell, Sarah Sutton, and Breanna Strange.
“They’re all quality kids and never complained,” Rowden said. “They always did what I asked them to do and never complained. As people, I’m going to miss them.”