Rough day for the Raiders

KANSAS – The Lakota softball team had been off to a good start this spring, building a 5-1 record. But according to coach Chris Chalfin, that Raider team that notched those five wins wasn’t the same one that took the field Friday against Gibsonburg.

The day started off on the wrong foot for Lakota as Gibsonburg leadoff batter, Elana Mancha, was hit on the foot. From there, it was a seemingly endless string of Golden Bear hits and Lakota ground balls that culminated in a 9-0 Gibsonburg victory.

“We didn’t do anything well,” Chalfin said. “(Assistant coach Jeff Bickford) said it best. We came in 5-1 and it looked like we were 1-5. They hit the ball well, I don’t want to take anything away from them. But we didn’t play well. We just sort of went through the motions, didn’t act like we wanted to be here a lot of times. And that’s disappointing for me. I guess we got to work on that.”

Things got progressively worse for Lakota after the hit batter. While that seemed to set the tone for the afternoon, Chalfin said he got a feeling even earlier than that, that it may not be his team’s day.

“I saw it before the game,” he said. “I told them that out there. I said, ‘When we got done warming up I had a feeling it may not be a good outcome. And that’s exactly what happened. Part of it might be they didn’t go to school today so there off their normal routines, but Gibsonburg didn’t go to school today either. They didn’t use that as an excuse. They just came out and put an old fashioned butt-whooping on us.”

A walk followed the HBP to Mancha, setting the stage for Alyssa Escobedo, who laced the first of several big Golden Bear hits, a triple to left center bringing home both runners. Filomena Mendoza followed with a double that dropped down the right field line giving Escobedo, Gibsonburg’s pitcher, a 3-0 lead before she ever stepped in the circle.

“That helps a lot pitching, not having to be so stressed out on the mound,” Escobedo said of pitching with a lead. “Just take a deep breath and do what I do.”

And what she did was outstanding.

Escobedo tossed a three-hit shutout, only allowing two Lakota-hit balls to reach the outfield. She struck out four and produced 13 ground-ball outs.

“Just throwing, evening my pitches and having a team there that’s behind me. They’re awesome,” she said when asked what was working so well for her.

“We just make the plays, try to be there for each other and keep each other up. Just go out and have fun and do our thing,” she added.

Chalfin credited Escobedo’s pitching, but also said his team didn’t take the right approach at the plate.

“She changed speeds a little bit. She threw outside a lot. When I say outside, I mean outside part of the plate. We were way out in front of everything. Never adapted the whole freaking game,” he said. “I talked to them between innings, every inning, ‘You got to wait, wait, wait, wait.’ And we just go up there and were way out in front of everything. I bet you we hit a half a dozen balls off the end of the bat. It’s a tribute to her I guess, she pitched a good game. A little disappointed that we sat around and talked about it, then came up there and didn’t do a darn thing we just talked about.”

With the way she was pitching, Escobedo didn’t need much more offensive support, but she got it anyway. Mendoza added another RBI double and Escobedo backed her own cause with another triple. Ashley Hasselbach, Shylee Schneltz and Allie Tepple all added RBI base hits.

“Throughout the whole lineup we have big bats,” Escobedo said. “It’s nice having that kind of team.”

“The overall performance of the team itself is, we play very well as a whole,” Gibsonburg coach Martin Brown added as his team improved to 5-2. “They’re not afraid to swing the bat. We can lay the bunt down when needed, but when we’re hot like we were on a day like today, we’ll swing the bats.

“When you have good pitching behind you like we had today, didn’t allow a run in the third, makes a big difference in the game, she did a great job.”

Lakota’s only real threat came in the third inning when Aspen Ray led off with a double. Breanna Ray followed with an infield single, but Aspen Ray was thrown out trying to advance to third. A fielder’s choice and a liner back to pitcher ended the inning.

Morgan Gangwer had a base hit in the seventh for the only other Lakota offense.

Lakota drops to 5-2 and can try to get back on the right track today with a doubleheader against Vanlue.

Chalfin said there’s two ways his team can respond.

“Guess we got our work cut out for us,” he said. “We could crawl in a hole and feel sorry for ourselves. Or we can get better. One or the other.”