By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports
Focus on the positive and learn from the negative.
That was Mid-Prairie head softball coach Kara Beatty?s message to her team after a 15-4 lost to Keokuk Friday in Kalona.
?We have young crew out there on the field,? Beatty said. ?We have to work on the controllable things like our infield communication and knowing where to go with the ball before the ball is hit. We struggled with those things defensively. There were at least four or five times when we had a ball hit at us and we did not know what to do.?
Playing a much-bigger school was a challenge for the Golden Hawks. One that they faced again Saturday at the University of Iowa Complex when they lost to Davenport West 5-1 and North Scott 8-2.
?Bigger schools play tougher teams and have seen pitchers that throw harder than us,? Mid-Prairie?s coach said. ?We knew they would put the ball in play.?
The Golden Hawks were not able to get an out in those situations because of an error, miscommunication or not knowing where to throw.
?We have to continue to work on that kind of stuff,? Beatty said. ?Those little things happen and then they come up with a big hit and start scoring.?
Keokuk got a number of baserunners from bunts.
?We talked about that a lot,? Beatty said. ?Good teams are going to do that. They get momentum from those baserunners and then somebody comes up with a big hit.?
Four fielding errors contributed to the high run total. Cassidy Rourke pitched the first two innings and gave up seven hits and three walks but only four of the six runs were earned. Myah Lugar pitched the last three innings and allowed eight hits and two walks but only six of the nine runs were earned.
?We have to continue to work on those little things,? Beatty said.
There were some bright spots for the Golden Hawks, mainly on offense.
?I was really impressed with how we came back,? Beatty said. ?I liked how we responded.?
After giving up the first five runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning to Keokuk, Mid-Prairie scored four in the top of the third.
Rylee Vercande had a two-run double. Hayley Yoder?s sharp single up the middle scored a run and Karsen Jehle had a hit and an RBI.
?We knew there was a lot of ball game left so I was glad we kept fighting,? Beatty said. ?That has to be a confidence booster for both of them.?
Against West, Rourke pitched all five innings with five strikeouts, four walks, four hits and two earned runs. Kylee Kos went 2 for 3.
Against North Scott, Rourke pitched three innings, allowed seven runs but five earned, with six hits, two walks and two Ks. Abbi Patterson threw two innings with three hits, one walk, one K and one unearned run. The Golden Hawks got six hits. One each from Vercande, Anna Vilovchik, Patterson, Jaselyn Robertson, Kos and Jehle.
?Hitting is our strength right now but our defense feeds into that,? Beatty said. ?When we have letdowns defensively, it takes a toll on our offense. We can hit the ball. I know we can do that but it is our defense that we need to keep working on.?
For a young team, it is important to put in the time and the work.
?We have talked a lot about controlling the things that we can control,? Beatty said. ?Our motto this year has been to be comfortable being uncomfortable. We have a lot of quiet girls in the infield. I have challenged them to stay in the game by talking every pitch. That should help keep them focused. It is still early in the season so I don?t want to dwell too much on the loss. I don?t care that we lose, I care how we lose.?
Mid-Prairie is 1-7 and plays at Tipton today.