Pitching helps carry T-Birds to a split with Bethany College JV on Monday

Cloud County freshman Kennedy Doherty (left) flips to sophomore Payton Gillen (right) for a force out during Monday's doubleheader.
Cloud County freshman Kennedy Doherty (left) flips to sophomore Payton Gillen (right) for a force out during Monday's doubleheader.

CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College softball team pitched well enough for two wins on Monday, kicking off a stretch of six games in three days, but the bats didn't cooperate as the T-Birds had to settle for a doubleheader split with Bethany College JV.

Cloud County (9-21 overall) fell by a 4-1 final in Game One, but were able to bounce back to win 2-0 in Game Two behind a complete-game pitching performance from freshman Mattison Hogrefe.

"Offensively, we just weren't there (Monday). The slower velocity really threw us off and we were constantly out on our front foot. That's why we didn't have anything (power) behind our swings," said Cloud County head coach, Aaron Acree. "We pitched well enough to win two games, and the defense was a lot better in Game Two. Our offense has to score runs to support them and that's how it's been and has to be for us this season."

Hogrefe didn't need much run support to work with in the nightcap as the right-hander picked up her fifth win of the season, limiting Bethany College JV to three hits while striking out a career-high nine batters.

"She's been on a roll and has had great command, been very focused," Acree said of Hogrefe, who was also 2-for-3 at the plate in Game Two. "The nine strikeouts were great. It looked like, after a couple days off, she had a little more zip on the ball. Her rise ball was great, I could see its movement from the dugout. If she has that going with her changeup, it just makes her more dangerous and tough to hit."

The T-Birds plated their first run in the first inning when sophomore third baseman Payton Gillen stole second, prompting an errant throw from the Swedes' catcher that allowed Emily Wells, who led off with a double, to score from third.

In the home half of the second inning, the T-Birds added another run when sophomore Kelsey Bowers hit a towering double into the left-field corner that would score freshman Kennedy Doherty all the way from first.

"She did a good job of letting the ball travel, then she put a good swing on it," Acree said of Bowers. "That was a big swing to get us an insurance run."

Hogrefe took care of the rest as she didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, and worked out of the jam she faced in the sixth by standing a pair of two-out singles by the Swedes.

As for Game One, the T-Birds were limited to one run on six hits by Bethany College JV right-hander, Taylor Wurtz.

Cloud County freshman Jacie Marcotte was saddled with the loss in Game One's pitcher's dual as she went all seven innings, allowed four unearned runs on six hits, and struck out two.

"Jacie pitched well enough for us to win," Acree said. "We still need to get a little better at staying ahead in the count, but she kept us in it. There were a few balls behind her that we should have had, defensively. We can't afford those, especially when you're not hitting it magnifies them."

The T-Birds struck first in Game One, scoring a first-inning run on a two-out RBI double to right by freshman Sarah Mccown.

Sophomore Alyssa Corpus also had a double in Game One, a one-out gapper to right-center, but was stranded on third base.

The T-Birds would have a runner in scoring position in the third and seventh innings, as well, but were unable to get the key hit to get back on the scoreboard.

Meanwhile, the Swedes took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on a RBI single and sacrifice fly, then bumped the lead to 4-1 with a two-run sixth, aided by two errors in the inning by the T-Birds.

Cloud County will look to build off Monday's positives when it continues a stretch of six games in three days on Tuesday against Neosho County Community.

Game times are set for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

"They are going to be scrappy and we have to be able to keep (the Panthers) leadoffs hitters off the bases," Acree said. "Neosho also has two pretty good hitters in the middle of their lineup, so we'll have to keep them at bay. If we can do that, we should have a pretty good shot. We'll need to play well, defensively, and be ready to go tomorrow."