FORT WORTH, Texas — The Cloud County Community College softball team had a challenging first day of the Cowtown Classic tournament, going 0-3 on Day One against a trio of NJCAA Division I opponents.
Cloud County (0-5 overall) opened Friday with its toughest test of the early season as the T-Birds took on No. 10 ranked Seminole State College (OK.), falling by a 10-2 final score.
Errors plagued the T-Birds as they committed four as a team that contributed to five unearned runs for Seminole State
"We did a lot of good things, had six hits to their six hits, but it's the untimely errors and not hitting with runners in scoring position that is getting us right now," said Cloud County head coach, Aaron Acree. "We left the bases loaded once and really struggled hitting with runners on base. That was probably the biggest difference in the ballgame."
Cloud County's table setters of sophomores Payton Gillen and Madison Hammond, and freshman Mattison Hogrefe were solid as each recorded a hit and the trio combined to get on base five times against Seminole State.
Freshman catcher Emily Wells, who leads the team with a .312 batting average and no strikeouts so far through his first 16 collegiate at-bats, led all T-Birds with a 2-for-3 performance in Game One.
"Emily has been fantastic. She's calling her own game behind the plate right now and what's really been a strong asset from her so far has been her hitting," Acree said. "She consistently puts the ball in play and that's been really encouraging."
In Game Two, the T-Birds had their first win in their crosshairs through much of its matchup against Navarro College, leading for six of the seven innings, but fell by a 3-2 final.
Navarro College started the bottom of the seventh with a flair single and two straight bunt attempts, with both players reaching base via errors, en route to stealing the victory.
"We misplayed a bloop to the outfield to start the inning then committed our only errors of the game on those two bunts. Next girl up hit a smash up the middle for the go-ahead runs," Acree said. "We have to put together a complete ballgame. That's where we're at right now and I think it does have to do with us not being outside practice and this just being our second time out in the field."
Wells would give Cloud County an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning to score Hammond, who allowed just one run in her 4.1 innings of work to start the game, while Gillen added an RBI single in the top of the fourth to bump Cloud County's lead to 2-0.
The T-Birds then finished Day One action with an evening matchup against a powerful Midland College team that finished with 17 hits in a 12-2 final.
"Midland was very good, big girls and some big hitters," Acree said. "Their pitcher was also probably throwing 65-66 miles per hour. We were able to hit her, but we were hitting balls right at people."
Cloud County finished with five hits and just three strikeouts in the game, two against the hard-throwing Hannah Ice of Midland.
The T-Birds again received hits from Wells (1-for-3), Gillen (1-for-3) and Hogrefe (1-for-3, RBI), while freshmen Jacie Marcotte (1-for-2) and Mikayla Bletscher (1-for2, RBI) also provided an offensive lift.
Cloud County will look to bounce back Saturday when it closes out the Cowtown Classic with an 11 a.m. game against another NJCAA Division I foe, North Central Texas College. It's game against Central Community College-Columbus, originally scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, was cancelled due to cold weather concerns.
"I like a lot of the things we're doing, we just haven't played a complete game yet. We just have to work through this," Acree said. "We haven't struck out a ton and our walk to strikeout ratio has been good. We just need to capitalize on situations then they're available."