The Rolla softball team (1-2) hosted Helias on Thursday, Aug. 24. The Lady Bulldogs fell behind in the first inning and never managed to work their way out of the hole in a 14-1 loss.
Helias took advantage of some Rolla miscues right off the bat. After a walk and a single, Helias scored their first run of the game on a grounder to short. The grounder turned into a single after the throw came late to first base. A throw down to second to try to gun down a baserunner turned into the second Helias run before an RBI single and a two-run double pushed their lead to 5-0.
Rolla looked like they were going to respond in the bottom of the frame when Emalee Grooms stepped into the batters box and launched a solo shot over the wall in center field. Unfortunately, after that the Lady Bulldog bats were silenced. Helias pitcher Lauren Howell got out of the inning without allowing another hit and managed to finish the game with the same hit total.
The Lady Bulldogs would end up finishing the game with just one base hit, but Helias didn't plan on slowing down. Helias had a home run of their own in the second inning when Rylee Kolb smacked one over the fence in center. The runs continued to trickle in for Helias, capping things off with five runs in the fifth inning to win the game on the mercy rule.
Lauren Moersch pitched a mercy rule-shortened complete game for Rolla for the second straight day. She allowed 14 runs, nine of which were earned, on 12 hits and eight walks.
"We talked about a strategy that we worked on more over the summer that we wanted to remind ourselves of," said head coach Tim Dunn of Moersch's pitching performance. "Up to a point, she did really good (with that strategy)."
Moersch didn't always get the help she needed from her defense, who made four errors behind her in the loss. Those issues didn't help Moersch get out of any tight situations.
"You get to a point where your pitcher is out there five or six extra batters an inning, which is what she ended up being out there for a lot," said coach Dunn. "It's hard on the psyche. Sometimes a pitcher will give up a ball that should've been fielded and when the next batter comes up, instead of throwing like normal, she's gonna try to strike her out because she's afraid the defense isn't going to help her out."
Those defensive problems didn't come from a lack of talent as much as they came from players rushing to make plays and getting sloppy. With the number of young players on their infield, that comes from the nerves of playing a really solid team like Helias. Dunn hopes that they're easily fixable mistakes.
"I talked about it earlier, about being consistent, but the thing is that we have a young team and the mistakes that we make are usually mistakes that come with inexperience," said coach Dunn.
Offensively, the Lady Bulldogs were silenced by one of the better pitchers in the state. Despite just being a sophomore, Howell has already verbally committed to playing at Arkansas. She an an ERA under two last season and struck out nine batters a game. Stats like that can easily get into the heads of young players like Rolla has.
"She was a very good pitcher, but you can't go up there and watch three go by and we did that too much," said Dunn. "I tell the kids, there's a little girl walking around out here, I can have her do that. I can have her go up and stand there and take three strikes. I told them they have to give themselves a chance and swing at the ball."
The Lady Bulldogs will have a nice little home stand for the next couple of weeks, which continues with a rescheduled game against Union on Monday, Aug. 28.