Softball splits conference opener
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball team opened its conference schedule with a split on the road against the Fort Hays State Tigers Saturday. The Mountain Lions won the first game 2-1, then dropped the nightcap 2-0.
The wind at Hays, Kan., gusted up to 66 miles per hour, making the Mountain Lions feel as if at any moment the dugout might be uprooted and deposited somewhere near Oz. But in Game 1, it was the defending Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champion Tigers that was wondering if they were still in Kansas.
For CU-Colorado Springs, defense set the tone.
It took catcher Crystal Krebs, a transfer from Division I Texas-Arlington, just one batter to show what all the fuss has been about. After leadoff batter Crystal Degenhardt beat out an infield single in the bottom of the first, Krebs threw her out attempting to steal second despite double clutching. Krebs then instigated the third out of the inning when her throw to second caught Jennifer Paynter halfway between first and second. A surprised Paynter tried to retreat back to first, but Jennifer Dykstra's throw to first baseman Lindsay Shandera easily beat Paynter to the bag.
"I try to bring confidence and leadership to the team," said Krebs, a junior. "I just kind of do my thing back there."
She also did her thing at the plate. Krebs singled sharply to right to start the second inning and moved to third on Dykstra's double to left center. It looked as if the opportunity might be squandered when Brenna Pool and Charlene Berg each struck out and Shandera quickly fell behind in the count. Fort Hays State starter Melissa Beyer, however, uncorked a wild pitch that easily scored Krebs and also allowed an alert Dykstra to come home when catcher Lindsey Boyer had trouble finding the ball.
Fort Hays State was able to get one run back in the bottom of the second on an RBI double by Desiree Lohmeier. The inning could have been more damaging had it not been for a slick catch-and-throw double play by Kara Rainey.
After the second inning, the complexion of the game changed as the temperature dropped. Hits were few as both pitchers got in a groove.
"From the very beginning, Crystal (Krebs) and I were on the same page," said CU-Colorado Springs pitcher Amber Colton. "I got pumped up after (Krebs' performance in the) first inning. I was ready to go.
"It also helps when the wind is blowing in."
Whatever the reason, the pitchers dominated. From the third inning on, the teams combined for only five hits and struck out 13 times.
That trend continued until the bottom of the seventh, when the wind threatened to become the Tigers' ally. Carla Morrison was hit by a pitch, then Lohmeier got a freak single on a popup that danced like Barischnikov. An error by Sonia Reyes loaded the bases with no outs.
Again, the defense came to the rescue. Pool hauled in a fly ball in left field, then threw a perfect strike to Krebs that nailed Morrison, who had tagged from third. Rainey caught a wobbling line drive to end the game.
As good as the defense was in the first game, it was equally suspect in Game 2.
Two errors in the first inning helped the Tigers take a 1-0 lead. Another two errors in the third pushed the lead to 2-0. With Brittany Parker, who went 17-7 with a 1.38 ERA last season, on the mound, two runs is a very large deficit.
"The first inning is what killed us," said Krebs. "We came out flat."
Parker did the rest. She held CU-Colorado Springs to four hits, struck out eight and walked only one.
"When our defense stepped it up, we couldn't get any offense going," said Krebs. "Their pitcher did a good job. She really hit her spots."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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