Lions Drop Opening Pair in Florida

By Doug Fitzgerald published March 22, 2005

After Tuesdayâ€TMs 4-0 loss to No. 19 Florida Southern, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball coach Scott Peterson was smiling. To the outsider, such a reaction would seem, at best, puzzling. After all, the Mountain Lions had just lost their second game of the day and been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since March 21, 2002.

Petersonâ€TMs reaction can probably best be explained by our old friend, Hall-of-Famer and baseball icon Yogi Berra.

“The game is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical,” said Yogi, who was obviously not a math major.

If Yogiâ€TMs right, Peterson has good reason to smile. Despite losing 5-0 to Augustana Tuesday afternoon then falling to Florida Southern the same evening, the Mountain Lions looked more like the team that earned a preseason No. 7 national ranking than the one that has earned a lackluster 6-10 record.

“Itâ€TMs a loss, but we can live with this one,” said Peterson after the evening game. “We played much better. The pitching was better, the defense was better. We feel better right now than we did this morning.”

It was the defense that hurt UCCS in the earlier game. An error by right fielder Sarah Wodniak turned Gian Hillâ€TMs leadoff single into a de facto triple. She scored one batter later to break a 0-0 tie.

An inning later, the Vikings scored four runs during which a ball hit to the outfield was misplayed into a double and two single deflected off of outstretched Mountain Lion gloves. While these werenâ€TMt technically errors, they were plays that the team has made in the past. The inability to come up with the big play wasted a strong pitching performance by Amber Colton (3-2), who prior to the disastrous fifth inning had not allowed an earned run on three hits.

The nightcap, though, was a far different story. Sonia Reyes made a spectacular play at third base and shortstop Jennifer Dykstra twice made plays despite having to range far to her right. Kara Rainey was flawless in eight chances against one of the nationâ€TMs fastest teams.

Despite the vast improvement, the defense again cost UCCS in the sixth inning. With a runner on first, Ashley Alpizar hit a lazy fly to short right field. Rainey broke to first base to guard against the bunt and was unable to change directions quick enough to snare the pop up. The next batter, Michelle Tatlock, laid down a bunt that Reyes fielded cleanly but, in her attempt to beat the fleet Moccasins center fielder to first, airmailed her throw to allow two runs to score. Jackie Leppla drove in Tatlock with a ground out.

“We gave them five outs that inning,” said Peterson.

There was concern over an offense that managed only six hits on the day and was held scoreless. That concern comes with a qualification, though, since the Mountain Lions were playing their first games of the season at sea level and in humidity. Those conditions cause the ball to break more than it does in Coloradoâ€TMs thin, dry air.

“Here, I think that (the ball is) moving a lot more,” said Reyes.

Reyes was UCCSâ€TM best hitter on the day. The junior had a single, a walk and was hit by a pitch in four plate appearances.

“For some reason, I feel like Iâ€TMm seeing the ball a lot better,” said Reyes. “I felt like I kind of just came out.”

A big bright spot for the Mountain Lions was the teamâ€TMs pitching. After Coltonâ€TMs solid
game, Brenna Pool kept Florida Southern in check until the disastrous sixth inning. Kaleigh Beekman and Amanda Ritchie also pitched effectively in relief.

“The pitchers are stepping it up,” said Peterson. “Theyâ€TMve turned the corner. Now weâ€TMve got to get the bats back going.”

For Pool, just getting back on the field was a bonus. The senior did not play against Mesa State this past weekend after suffering a deep bone bruise in her left forearm and a chipped bone in her left wrist in a car accident on Thursday.

“I feel better than I did the day after the wreck,” said Pool, who admitted she also got her ‘bell wrung.â€TM “I was ready to play. I was so ready to get out on the field and play hard for my team. I used that as my motivation.”

There was another factor to her strong performance.

“Having Florida Southern as my first game back put me in a different mentality, too,” said Pool. “I knew I couldnâ€TMt use being hurt as an excuse.”

And thatâ€TMs what finally gets us back to Yogi. That UCCS stepped up against the nationally ranked Moccasins let the Mountain Lions know how teams have approached them. The effect was eye opening.

“This is what weâ€TMre getting from other teams,” said Peterson. “We came out with this intensity because of who they are. Thatâ€TMs what weâ€TMre getting from our opponents. We just havenâ€TMt been taking up our level of play.

“Weâ€TMre going to be fine now. I truly think weâ€TMre going to be OK.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Amber ColtonAmber Colton2PSo.
Amber ColtonAmber Colton2PJr.
Amber ColtonAmber Colton2PSr.
Jennifer DykstraJennifer Dykstra10SSSo.
Jennifer DykstraJennifer Dykstra10SSJr.
Jennifer DykstraJennifer Dykstra10SSSr.
Kara RaineyKara Rainey21IFSo.
Kara RaineyKara Rainey21IFJr.
Kara RaineyKara Rainey212BSr.
Sarah WodniakSarah Wodniak24OFJr.
Sarah WodniakSarah Wodniak24OFSo.
Sarah WodniakSarah Wodniak24OFSr.
Brenna PoolBrenna Pool9IF/PJr.
Brenna PoolBrenna Pool9P/OFSr.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes13IFSo.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes133BJr.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes133BSR
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
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