CONCORDIA, Kansas — After six weeks of waiting, the Cloud County Community College softball team was finally able to play in front of its home fans Tuesday, sweeping its home opening doubleheader against Coffeyville Community College.
Cloud County (8-18 overall, 2-8 Region VI) shook off some early nerves in Game One, overcoming a 4-0 deficit to win 11-6, then put on a dominating performance in Game Two's 10-0 victory over the visiting Red Ravens (4-25 overall, 1-11 Region VI).
"We had a really nice crowd and it was great to be home," said Cloud County head coach, Aaron Acree. "It's always good to play here and I was happy to see the girls put it together, especially in Game Two."
The T-Birds' excitement of being home for the first time after playing their first 24 games of the season on the road showed in the early innings of Game One as Coffeyville jumped out to a 4-0 lead heading to the bottom of the third.
"We were a little too giddy about being out here for the first time and we weren't playing focused," Acree said.
After the Red Ravens scored three in the top of the third, Cloud County quickly answered back in the home-half of the inning with five runs to capture the momentum.
Freshman catcher Emily Wells got the scoring started with a RBI double, while the trio of Sarah Mccown, Jacie Marcotte and Mikayla Bletscher all followed with run-scoring singles and stolen bases as the T-Birds ratcheted up the offensive pressure.
Sophomore first baseman Alyssa Corpus produced a RBI groundout to cap the scoring, giving Cloud County a total of five runs on four hits and four stolen bases in the inning.
"We were pulling the ball early in the game. We finally started hitting behind our runners, executing some hit-and-run situations and stole some bases," Acree said. "Watching their catcher warm up, she wasn't extremely mobile, so we wanted to put pressure on her and the defense. Just looking for any which way to manufacture runs."
The T-Birds would score at least one run in each of the next three innings to blow the game open and cruise to the 11-6 final.
Mccown led the way for the Cloud County offense, finishing 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored, while Marcotte (2-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 runs), Wells (2-for-4, 1 run) and sophomore Kelsey Bowers (2-for-3, 2 runs, 1 RBI) all added multi-hit games in Game One.
In the pitching circle, Marcotte picked up her third win of the season as she finished with a workmanlike five innings pitched.
She gave way to Mattison Hogrefe in the six and the fellow freshman, despite some early control issues, was able to nail down her second save of the season with two scoreless innings of relief.
Hogrefe looked polished in Game Two, though, as she picked up her fourth win with an overpowering performance, limiting Coffeyville to a pair of hits while striking out three in five innings.
"The biggest difference for Mattison was she started batters off with a strike in Game Two. She had to work a little harder in Game One because she was behind hitters," Acree said. "She consistently worked ahead and they weren't able to hit anything hard off her."
The Cloud County offense provided Hogrefe with plenty of run support, pounding out 10 runs on nine hits, highlighted by a three-run home run from Marcotte to right-field in the bottom of the fourth inning.
"She kept her head behind it and let her hands get out through the ball," Acree said of Marcotte, who is second on the team with four home runs this season. "She executed perfectly and that's how she's been hitting them (home runs) between the left-center and right-center field gaps."
"The bottom of our lineup picked it up big time (Tuesday)," Acree said. "When we're executing and hitting behind runners like those girls were doing, it opens things up for us and that's how we're going to have to play."
Cloud County won't have to wait long to get back on its diamond as the T-Birds turn right around and host Cowley College at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday.
"Cowley is going to be tough. They are fast, they are more athletic and they can swing it," Acree said. "But I think if we continue to play our game, we're going to be OK."