Lady Rattlers relinquish lead in 7-4 loss to Cornerstone Christian
Learning to play with the lead is the next step for the Lady Rattlers.
San Marcos (3-4) extended the lead in the bottom of the third inning during Tuesday's contest against San Antonio Cornerstone Christian (7-3) after senior catcher Courtney Matthews hit an RBI-single, bringing in her teammate, junior shortstop Kaylee Cavazos. The hit brought the Lady Rattlers’ lead to 4-1.
The team did well staying ahead until they started to fall apart mentally — mostly on the defensive side of the ball. The mental lapse began at the top of the fifth, when two miscues by the defense allowed runners to be safe instead of routine outs. The team survived the scare but the inning foreshadowed what was coming later in the game.
After tying the score up in the sixth, The top of the seventh inning started with a double for Cornerstone Christian, followed by a bunt which left runners on first and third base. A steal moved the first base runner to second. Next, controversy struck. A fly ball to centerfield looked like it was caught but the runner at second stayed safe after a tag was placed on her following the catch.
Head coach Cathy Stoughton ran out of the dugout to contest the call, but following the umpires visit, they called the batter and the runner safe, leaving the bases loaded. Stoughton believed the play could’ve shifted the momentum of the game but she didn’t blame the loss on one play.
“That definitely is a momentum changer because we had the out and the run didn't score because the girl didn't tag up. But (she) wouldn't have scored anyway, so we had that break going for us and then we would have had another out and we would have only had two runners on instead of bases loaded in a situation, I think, we were with one out now instead of two,” Stoughton said explaining the controversial call in the top of the seventh. “So, I think it was a momentum changer. We gotta be mentally tough enough to go past that, but we put ourselves in that situation with some of the plays that we made.
“We are typically very savvy in the field. We did not play sound defense tonight. We got up early 4-1 and then it was like we just relaxed. We gave up an 0-2 hit to tie the game which is not acceptable. And not communicating on throws, dropping balls, those are things that are uncharacteristic of us. We’ve got to learn how to sustain that tough mentality throughout the game instead of being tough mentally until we get to a certain point and then relaxing. We’ve got to keep our foot on the gas the entire game and we just did not do that tonight.”
In the final two innings, the Rattlers gave up five runs, ultimately relinquishing the lead and handing the victory to Cornerstone Christian Academy by a score of 7-4 at the Rattler Softball Diamond.
The bats were hot early in the game after San Marcos had scored runs in back-to-back innings after being shutout in the first. In the circle, freshman pitcher Kaylie Juergens caught fire. Five of the first six batters she faced left the box by strikeout, leaving her defense relaxed in the field.
The laid back attitude of the hosts was when the Lady Warriors found a hole to escape away with the win — even with Juergens putting on a pitching clinic. The freshman dealt 14 strikeouts on the day even with the other team heckling her on the opposing bench.
“When (Juergens) has good command for stuff, she’s going to be a dangerous pitcher. She’s very young, she’s just a freshman,” Stoughton said. “We still are picking on her about things like the one that tied the game, the 0-2 hit. Knowing when to come in, when to be off the plate, when to use a waste pitch, those kinds of things. We need to cut down on the walks a little bit but otherwise, the strikeouts were big. She’s getting better with every game. I didn’t even realize she had 14 strikeouts.”
San Marcos will get a day of rest before heading into the final tournament of the season before getting ready for district play. Stoughton wants her team to be able to play with a lead and from behind while staying disciplined throughout the duration of the game.
“Just being more aggressive throughout (the game), regardless of the situation. We had to learn how to play from behind and we did that in the tournament and that’s always tough. Now we have to learn how to keep the lead. We need to continue to be disciplined and intense and carry that throughout the game,” Stoughton said. “I felt like we got a little cavalier tonight with our approach at the plate and our approach on defense. When you get comfortable and you’re not as focused and dialed in, that’s when you start making mistakes. You don’t make the routine plays and swing at pitches that are not your strength or not in your zone and the pitcher gets the advantage. That’s what I think affected us tonight.”