LINDSBORG, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College softball team was sharp following its 10-day layoff, putting together back-to-back strong performances to sweep Monday's road doubleheader against Bethany College JV by the final scores of 6-3 and 18-8, respectively.
It marked the first time the T-Birds (3-15 overall, 0-6 Region VI) have won back-to-back games so far this season, providing a positive springboard into a busy week that will see the team play eight games in six days.
"These games were very important and got us going on the right track," said Cloud County head coach, Aaron Acree. "We got some nice pitching performances, timely hitting and a little confidence boost heading into the rest of the week."
In Game One, Cloud County was able to rebound from a slow start to overcome a 2-1 first inning deficit and manufacture a 6-3 victory.
Freshman right-hander Jacie Marcotte earned her first collegiate win inside the pitcher's circle after throwing a season-long 6.2 innings, limiting the Swedes to three runs, just one earned, on seven hits.
"Jacie and (catcher Emily Wells) did a really nice job of working the ball high and low on hitters and Jacie's changeup was on," Acree said. "She was able to come after hitters with the off-speed then come right back with some high heat and it did wonders for her (Monday). They didn't really hit the ball hard against her."
While Marcotte had the Swedes in a rocking chair, the T-Birds were opportunistic on offense, capitalizing on six walks issued by Bethany College JV and four errors in Game One.
Cloud County plated its first run on a fielding error, then tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the second when sophomore outfielder Kelsey Bowers produced and RBI groundout, scoring freshman shortstop Kennedy Doherty, who led off the inning with a double.
The T-Birds took the lead for good with a two-run third inning when sophomore Alyssa Corpus had a RBI hit-by-pitch and Bowers followed with a RBI walk to make it a 4-2 lead.
They'd salt the game away with a two-run fifth inning, this time on a pair of hard-hit balls as freshman second baseman Mikayla Bletscher launched her first career home run to lead off the inning.
Cloud County then capped its scoring when Corpus scorched a one-out double and came one to score on another double off the bat of freshman catcher, Emily Wells.
The duo of Wells and Bletscher were key cogs for the T-Birds in Game Two, which saw the team pound out 18 runs on a season-high 17 hits.
Wells was 2-for-2 with three runs scored and four driven in atop the lineup card, while Bletscher continued her career day with a 4-for-4 performance in Game Two with two runs scored and 3 RBI.
"It was very nice to see Mikayla get going because we've been waiting for it. We've known she could do it," Acree said. "She's been reading the ball better a lot better and has been more patient after being a little too anxious at the plate at times."
Bletscher and Wells were just the tip of the iceberg for the Cloud County offense in the nightcap as seven different players recorded multi-hit games, including freshman Sarah Mccown (3-for-5, 3 RBI), sophomore third baseman Payton Gillen (2-for-3, 2 runs), Doherty (2-for-3, 3 RBI), Marcotte (2-for-5, 3 runs), and Bowers (2-for-4, 2 runs).
Cloud County opened its scoring in Game Two with a four-run second inning, highlighted by a two-run single from Wells.
The T-Birds would add three runs in the fourth and fifth innings before blowing the game open with an eight-run sixth inning. They'd send a total of 14 hitters to the plate in the sixth, receiving run-scoring singles from Wells, Mccown and Bletscher.
While the 17 hits were exciting to see, Acree said the number that struck him was the 16 walks drawn by Cloud County hitters on Monday — 10 coming in Game Two — versus just five strikeouts between the two games.
"It was wonderful to see because we do have a hitting team," Acree said. "We went over with the girls reading the ball and being more selective. They made that adjustment between games. When you have 16 walks to five strikeouts on the day, you're doing something right. We made Bethany pay for the walks, especially in that second game, and it was encouraging to see."
Cloud County will look to build off Monday's performance when it loads the bus again Tuesday for another road doubleheader against a non-conference opponent in Southeast Community College. Game times are set for 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. in Beatrice, Nebraska.
"We have to keep our momentum going and understand the process," Acree said. "I think the girls are starting to buy-in to it and see it."