The Belton Lady Tigers started their preseason Tuesday night at Lady Tiger Field, as they hosted Robinson in Head Coach Rachel Reekstin’s first game as head coach.
Belton rallied from a three-run deficit in the final inning to tie the Lady Rockets, 4-4.
The Lady Tigers will return to the field this weekend at two different venues. They will travel to Cedar Ridge on Friday and Vista Ridge on Saturday for a doubleheader.
Kaylee Jordan got the start in the circle for the Lady Tigers. She struck out two batters on her way to a 1-2-3 first inning.
After Belton was retired in order in the bottom of the first inning, Robinson collected a pair of runs with two outs in the top of the second to take the lead.
Belton answered with solo homer to left centerfield by Bethany Sherwood in the bottom of the second inning to cut the deficit in half, 2-1.
Jordan collected her fifth strikeout of the game in the top of the third inning.
Robinson manufactured two runs in the top of the fourth inning. The Lady Tigers got out of the inning when Ramsey Curran scooped up a slow grounder at third base and fire a throw to Mia Garza at second base to get the force out. The Lady Rockets led, 4-1.
Paige Nunes tripled on a first pitch of the bottom of the fourth inning. Sherwood drilled a long fly ball to centerfield that was held up in the jet stream for an out. Nunes ended up stranded at third base.
Aizlenn Canava took over in the circle for Jordan in the top of the fifth inning, On the first pitch, a Rocket hitter belted a tailing liner to left field. Emily Parker initially moved to her left and broke to her right to make the catch on the run for the first out of the inning. Canava was able to pitch out of a runner on first base situation with a strikeout and flyout to Tristyn Barton in centerfield.
The Lady Tigers rallied in the final inning for three runs. McKenzie Drake ripped a one-hop liner against the left field wall for a standup double. With one out, Barton picked up an infield single, moving Drake to third. With two outs, Kaylee Rodriguez walked to load the bases. On a 2-2 count, Mia Garza hit a blast to the right centerfield gap to score Drake and Barton, moved Rodriguez to third base. Rodriguez scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 4-4, and Garza moved into scoring position. Nunes flew out to strand Garza on second base, and the game ended.
Drake had two hits, Garza had two RBI and Sherwood had an RBI on a homer. The Lady Tigers left four runners on base.
“In the beginning, we were ‘go big or go home.’ Anyone who knows the game, or does not know the game, could see that we were swinging for the fences,” Reekstin said. “Finally, in that last inning, we started to get some hits and scored three runs. It is just a mindset; it is just a shift. I know that we can hit home runs, but that will not win you every ball game.”
There were times during the game, attention to detail tended to drift a bit. The long layoff of playing competitive softball shook out after the first couple of innings.
“Mental wise, we were a little off tonight,” Reekstin said. “Those are things that we can fix moving forward. We were a little unfocused and we need to get back to playing focused. It has been a long time since we played here and have to get back into the groove of things.”
Jordan tossed four innings, allowed four runs (third earned) on five hits, walked three and struck out six. Canava pitched an inning, allowed one hit and struck out one.
“They will be fine,” Reekstin said. “They went out and did exactly what I needed them to do. We just need to support them on offense and defense.”
For the scrimmages coming up this weekend, the message is simple from Reekstin.
“Focus,” Reekstin said.