MELISSA — Melissa’s Lady Cardinals saw their losing streak reach three games on April 11 as Aubrey shut them out at home, 5-0. The Lady Chaps opened up a 3-0 lead in the third inning then relied on pitcher Laney Roos to keep Melissa at bay while Aubrey added insurance runs in the fifth and seventh.
“It just proves that our district is as tough as I thought it was going to be,” Lady Cards head coach Eric Rodgers said. “You can’t count anybody out. … We’ll be alright. They’re fighting. The effort is there. It’s just a couple of plays here and there. It’s the second game in a row against them that we couldn’t get that timely hit.”
On the bright side for Melissa, with Bonham’s win over Princeton, the Lady Cards still clinched a District 11-4A playoff spot. Win or lose, Melissa is in — with one game left: Princeton at home on April 18.
Roos went the whole way for the Lady Chaps on Tuesday, allowing five hits and six walks with nine strikeouts. Sophomore Alexis Pevehouse countered on the mound for Melissa, scattering six hits over seven innings with one walk and seven “Ks.” Jessica Grimes led Aubrey batters with two hits and two RBIs. Pevehouse, sophomore Kylee Brakebill, freshman Savannah Rodriguez and sophomore Audrey Solomon each registered lone hits for the Lady Cards, with Solomon’s going for a double in the first inning.
Melissa posted five errors in the loss, against no miscues by the Lady Chaps.
“Honestly, we didn’t have to make any spectacular plays,” Aubrey head coach Shon Ranton said. “We just had to make some routine plays on defense, which is a tribute to our pitcher. She had a few walks but she got us out of jams. I thought she did a great job in those crucial situations tonight.”
With the win, Aubrey (6-3) clinched a playoff berth as well and seems to be peaking at the right time.
“If you want to call it peaking, I’ll agree with you,” Ranton said.
Rodgers said giving up the big inning is a common thread in the Lady Cards’ recent skid. As for why it’s happening, he said, “I don’t think it’s one thing I can put my finger on. … We’ve just got to come back together and get going again.”
This night, the opponent’s big inning came in the third when Aubrey moved into the lead aided by three errors. In the fifth, the Chaps added a run on two singles to center field, then another error and a single in the seventh boosted Aubrey’s lead to the 5-0 final margin. The Lady Cards got runners into scoring position five times with two outs — in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings — but left them stranded.
“The attitude’s there, the excitement’s there,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got a young bunch. When we were winning, that seemed like it came easy, and it was fun. With a young bunch, you lose a couple and maybe they’ve got to figure out how to turn that around. We’re going to be fine. I’m proud of them. I wouldn’t trade any of them — love them to death.”
Rodgers noted that expectations can be tough on a young roster like the Lady Cards’, which is loaded with talented sophomores and freshmen. The team led the district race for much of the season.
“People started noticing,” he said of Melissa’s early success. “We’ve got bigger crowds than ever. The boys have been showing up, doing great with (beating on) the buckets. In years past, it was just, ‘You know, softball. It is what it is.’ And now we’re winning, we’ve got two years in the playoffs. Expectations — we’re stepping up that ladder. And with expectations comes a little bit of pressure. … We’re going to go back to work. We’ve got a couple of days of work ahead of us. Then we’ll take off a couple of days for Easter, and we’ll come back and give Princeton everything we’ve got.”