The collective body language of the Madison-Plains softball team changed with the first error and like an avalanche the demeanor and confidence of the young Golden Eagles went down hill with each ensuing miscue that followed during a disappointing 12-1 loss at Grandview on Wednesday, April 23.
Coach Kevin Stockham’s committed four critical errors in the game, but the Golden Eagles had many more mental mistakes that led to a flurry of unearned runs. For the game Grandview only had four hits against Plains’ starting pitcher Courtney Davis, but the runs came fast and furious when they couldn’t make routine plays.
“We come over here and Grandview is an improving team,” Stockham said. “We beat them a couple weeks ago at our place and they’ve played a lot of people tough, but they’re like us they’re up and down. We seem to have some good days and we have some bad days, when things are going well, we play well and we have a lot of success. When we don’t seem to focus on what we’re trying to accomplish here, then things don’t work out the way we think they should.”
The frustration could be seen on the faces of the Plains’ players and how they approached things after a strong first two innings. The Eagles scored a second-inning run to take a 1-0 lead, but a couple mental mistakes in the third inning allowed the Bobcats to take a 3-1 lead after three innings. The home team scored a run in each of the next two innings and led 5-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth. In that frame everything fell apart for the Eagles, a number of errors led to a 7-run inning and the end of the game.
“When we commit errors we break down, a lot of it is youth,” Stockham said. “We have a lot of freshman and sophomores out on the field, seven who started this game. When things are rolling pretty good that snowballs too and we play very well. We seem to be the type of team when there’s an error another happens in that same inning, a lot of the time the very next batter.
“The last inning we gave up seven runs and there were at least three errors and it all started with an error when no runs even scored.”
Davis got the first two batters out in the final inning, but then a couple dropped pop-ups, a throwing error and a misplayed ball in the outfield led to a big finish for the Bobcats.
“We encourage kids to be aggressive and sometimes errors happen, but it’s a confidence thing too,” the coach said. “We have kids who are very confident in what they’re doing, but the youth comes in and they don’t have a lot of confidence in what their teammates are doing. It just snowballs, we have to learn to play through things like this.”
Plains (7-8, 4-3) hasn’t given up hope on the season, it knows that there will be good days and bad days ahead.
“We have good senior leadership and a good junior and we can be pretty good,” the coach said. “We have good pitching and good catching, and defensively we make plays where people scratch their head and say wow. It just comes back to being confident in what we’re doing and confident in what are teammates are trying to do. We kind of let it get away tonight.”
The Golden Eagles (3-10, 2-6) survived a late-game rally from the host Bobcats and picked up a Mid-State League Ohio Division victory on Wednesday, April 23.
Plains got a strong pitching performance from Hunter Butin, delivered some timely hitting and showed some grit when things got tight late.
“Our team did a great job tonight of putting the ball in play and keeping the pressure on Grandview,” coach Zach Durban said. “We gave up a five-run lead to this team in our first meeting. It was a sign of our team’s growth and maturity to hang on for the win tonight.”
Butin allowed eight hits to the Bobcats, and benefited from his teammates coming through with big hits.
“Hunter Butin pitched an excellent complete game,” Durban said. “He’s been a competitor for us all year on the mound and deserved his second win. Our offense came through and gave him the run support he needed. Both (Matt and Nate) Jeffers boys continue to be tough outs and drive in runs for us.”
Both Jeffers brothers had two hits and an RBI, Kenkade Snyder also had a pair of hits and Grant Doty had a hit and two RBI.
“Tonight Grant Doty continued his breakout as a hitter,” the coach said. “He has made some small changes at the plate and has been working hard to improve himself. I’m proud of his efforts and he came through with two big RBI for us.
“I look forward to our continued improvements in all facets of the game and much more consistent play out of our squad. We’re taking the steps right now to becoming a strong second half of the year team.”
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.