by Eric Oslund
The Spectrum softball team boasted an 8-2 record heading into their game against Maranatha on Wednesday, May 3, and were looking to see how they measured up against one of the best teams they would face this season.
Maranatha was first in their conference with an 11-1 heading into that game, and ranked as the No. 6 single-A team in the state.
They were quickly able to get out to a 1-0 lead over the Sting, but then the home team came back in the bottom of the third inning when Elizabeth Hackbarth blasted a 2-run double to the fence, giving the Sting a 2-1 lead.
“She’s hitting like crazy,” head coach Rob Rogers said of Hackbarth. “I think she’s had two home runs in the last three games – over the fence home runs. She’s batting like .750 right now, so she’s hitting like crazy.”
The Sting would add another run in the sixth inning to make it a 3-1 game. They were going into the top of the seventh inning with the lead, and all the momentum, against one of the best teams in the state. Just three outs stood between them and victory.
Maranatha’s leadoff runner would get a double to start the seventh inning, eventually scoring to make it 3-2. The Sting were able to record two outs, but their opponents got another runner into scoring position, but then they got the break they were looking for.
Junior pitcher Ellie Rogers managed to get the Maranatha batter to pop up to the short stop. A routine play that she has made hundreds of times, that would have won the game for the Sting, but instead she misses it and the ball falls into the dirt – allowing a runner to score and tie the game 3-3.
“Sometimes it’s a focus issue,” the head coach began. “I can see it out there, and even us coaches, we’re looking ahead thinking, ‘We’ve got this thing won.’ You look ahead a little bit and get tight, and I’m sure that’s what happened with Isabel, our short stop.”
The game went into overtime when the Sting were unable to do anything at the plate offensively. Once again, they were able to get the first two outs relatively easily, and appeared to get the third out too, but tragedy would strike once again.
Ellie Rogers struck the batter out swinging for the third strike, with runners on second and third, but her catcher, Hackbarth, was unable to handle the ball. Usually in that situation the catcher throws the ball down to first to get the out, but it rolled too far away for Hackbarth to do that, so she threw it home expecting Rogers to be there to get the runner at third out.
“Dropped third strike, it’s a so routine, she just assumed, ‘It’s two outs, we’re good.’ So she didn’t bother to cover, and the ball squirted too far from Elizabeth to cover and now it’s a blown assignment,” Rob Rogers explained. “There were two errors on that last play. Error on Elizabeth for the first run, error on Ellie for the second run, so no body’s impervious to the error.”
Maranatha would end up scoring two runs on that play to make it 5-3 in their favor, which was more than enough as the Sting struggled get anything going offensively in the bottom of the eighth. It was a disappointing way to lose the game, especially when they had the win in hand, but Rob Rogers doesn’t want his team to get down on themselves because of the outcome.
“Is it frustrating? A little bit, but I hope their take away is they can play with anybody in the state right now,” he explained. “The fact that they had the (sixth) ranked team in the state beat, and we lost on two errors, I hope that’s their take away.”