PITTSBURG – Blue Comets softball couldn’t overcome a flurry of hits with runners in scoring position produced by the Pittsburg Purple Dragons Thursday evening.
The inability to capitalize on opportunities led to an 8-0 loss for Chanute. Racking up nine hits to Pittsburg’s 10, sophomore pitcher and right fielder Kamri Naff, senior centerfielder Brianna Waggoner, and sophomore second baseman Preston Keating all hit 2-for-3, with Waggoner doubling. Sophomore shortstop Brinly Bancroft was 2-for-4 with a double, while freshman third baseman Marlee Miller registered a 1-for-4 day.
“We did much better putting the ball in play, getting on base. We did not finish by scoring those (runners) who got on base, so we left too many runners out,” CHS head coach Beth Jackett said. “Almost every inning, we had two to three girls on base when we got three outs. And so we just need to finish. We need to monopolize. We’ve got runners out there. We got to score them.”
Chanute certainly had chances. In five out of the seven innings at-bat, CHS failed to drive in runners in scoring position. Pittsburg starting pitcher Georgia Boekout struck out seven, walked two, and allowed no earned runs and nine hits in a complete game.
It was a very close game until the bottom of the sixth, when left fielder Emery Kafka hit a two-run home run on a line drive to right field to make the score 5-0 Pittsburg. Pittsburg went on to score on a groundout and Elle Slaughter lifted another two-run shot, putting the score at 8-0 – the final score.
“We just stayed patient. We knew the hits were going to come as long as we stayed confident, stayed positive, and worked on our timing,” PHS first-year head coach Karen Curran said. “Up and down the lineup, we’ve got power and they finally showed it at the plate. The second time through the lineup, we expect them to start making more contact. We started fouling more balls off. We put the pressure on the defense to make plays. And then the third time through, we were just seeing the ball with big eyes and hit it. I don’t think I’ve seen two home runs in the same inning in the same spot on the field before that were that big, so that was special.”
There were some positives on display for Chanute even in a loss.
“It’s still good defense. Kamri Naff had an amazing game at the plate – there until the end,” Jackett said. “In the sixth inning, they finally figured out how to hit her. Unfortunately, the score of the game doesn’t show how close we were going into that sixth inning. It was 3-0, so it was a ballgame until that inning. She had a great game in the circle.”
Naff on the day struck out six, walked two, and allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Freshman reliever Peyton Shields didn’t allow a hit or an earned run in 1/3 inning.
But really, that bottom of the sixth set the game up for Pitt. And it didn’t help Chanute left 11 runners on base.
“We’re still trying to figure everything out. We are a young team – a lot of freshman and sophomores that never had this experience before,” Jackett said. “Like I said before, they played travel ball, but high school softball is very different. I think we’re doing a great job of coming together as a team. ... This (Pittsburg) team, I believe, is pretty much the same as us, and so I think they can see they’re right there, how close they are.”
Chanute (1-2, 0-2) played Iola Friday. That story will be in the Tribune on Tuesday.