Wildcats warm up over weekend

3/07/08

It took a few trips to the plate last weekend for the Baker bats to completely thaw after a winter spent indoors. The team's gloves, however, appeared as if they were already in midseason form.

Losing its first two games 5-1 and 9-2 to Midland Lutheran College and Rockhurst College, respectively, the Baker softball team struggled to get much going offensively, recording just seven hits in the first two contests.

Pitchers Lisa Pearse (0-1) and Stephanie Nelson (0-1) started on the hill for the 'Cats. "Everybody seemed to be trying to get comfortable at the plate in the first game," junior Jayde Allen said. "As the day went on, though, everyone started contributing."

With a .625 batting average through her first three games, Allen was the offensive juggernaut for the 'Cats as she homered in just her second at bat of the season against Midland Lutheran and accounted for the team's only hits against the Rockhurst Hawks.

"It always feels good to hit a homerun," Allen said. "It's hard to explain the feeling - it just came off my bat perfectly."

While the 'Cats faltered at the plate for much of the first two games, Allen said the team is encouraged by the improvement in its pitching rotation and the way the team looked defensively.

Registering just two errors the entire weekend, the team's proficiency in the field compensated for the rough outings on offense.

"We looked sharp defensively," Allen said. "(Defense) was a big chunk of what we practiced in the offseason because we couldn't go outdoors."

Since last weekend was the first time the team had seen live pitching in months, Allen said she felt the team performed the way they should have in the first two games.

"I expect us to continue to improve offensively as time goes on," pitcher Erin Ford concurred.

The team turned the corner in the third game of the 2008 campaign in Springfield, Mo., beating Dana College 3-0 in seven innings. Ford (1-0) led the team from the mound tossing a complete game shutout in which she allowed just six hits and one walk.

Dana proved no match for the 'Cats as they allowed seven members of the Baker lineup to register hits in the contest.

"Everyone seemed to be pretty comfortable in the third game," Allen said. "We're always striving to get better."

Head coach Jennifer Rigdon said overall she was pleased with how the team played in its opening games.

"Considering it was the first time we have seen live pitching in a while, I thought the girls played well," Rigdon said. "I was especially happy with how they played defensively."

The 'Cats (1-2) will travel to Ottawa University (5-2) Saturday for a doubleheader against the Braves and finally play at home during a doubleheader versus William Jewell College on Thursday.

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