Sailors softball drops 2 games |

Sailors softball drops 2 games

Walks cripple SSHS against Middle Park

— The Middle Park High School softball team got the big hits, picking up strong doubles throughout Wednesday’s doubleheader against homestanding Steamboat, as well as three home runs in the second game alone.

But it wasn’t necessarily those whacks that spelled doom for the Sailors. A flurry of walks delivered by Steamboat pitchers kept Panthers constantly on the bases, and the Sailors’ own strikeouts kept them from responding with any big innings.

It all added up to two more lopsided defeats as Steamboat lost, 25-0 and 22-0, at Howelsen Hill. That puts the team at 0-8 on the season.

“Our pitchers are struggling right now,” Steamboat coach Dan Swanson said. “We don’t have the velocity we need, and we’re struggling to hit our spots.

“I know we can play better than that.”

Steamboat issued 12 walks in the three-inning second game, and Middle Park frequently took advantage.

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The Sailors said the process was only more frustrating because at times they were close to getting out of innings that would prove so damaging. In the first inning of the second game, for instance, Middle Park built a fat lead, scoring 13 runs. Almost all of those came after a suddenly stout Steamboat defense picked up two quick outs.

The third proved elusive and eventually costly.

“We’ve had a hard time getting that third out all season,” Swanson said.

Not all innings were that ugly, but the first inning of both games were the worst, drowning any Steamboat momentum before it could get started.

After scoring 14 in the first inning of the first game, Middle Park tallied five runs in the second inning and six in the third.

Swanson said those big deficits often proved detrimental to Steamboat’s offense.

“It’s hard to play the game when you’re giving up 20-plus runs every game,” he said. “I can’t bunt with people or play small ball in those situations.”

Steamboat threatened to answer on several occasions, getting a handful of runners on base throughout the two games. A pair of Sailors reached base after being hit by pitches in the second inning of the second game, but the team couldn’t find a big hit to drive them home.

“I don’t know why they weren’t hitting today,” Swanson said. “We’d been hitting well in practice, and we’ve been hitting faster pitchers, so it’s disappointing.”

Steamboat continued to try to get something started, even late into the second game. Shantel Payne reached after Middle Park overthrew first base and then scampered to second as the Panthers tried to find the ball. She made it to third on a wild pitch but never got a chance to score.

Eight of the nine Sailor outs in both the first and second game came via strikeout.

“We try and be positive,” first baseman Kirsten Delaney said. “We need a lot of practice and work. In years, we’ll eventually get there, smiling.”

– To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail