Monday was a long night for the Manhattan High softball team.
Hosting a triangular with Derby and Wichita Northwest, the Indians lost a tight game 3-2 in the late innings in the first game of the day, then had to sit and watch while the Panthers and Grizzlies played each other in the second game. Manhattan then wrapped its night with a 13-7 loss to Northwest, totaling six hours at the ballpark and only a pair of losses to show for it.
Making things tougher on the Indians was the fact they were in both games most of the night before faltering late.
“It was tough, after losing the way we did that first game, then sitting out in between,” Manhattan head coach Scott Mall said. “You never know how you’ll come back, but I thought the girls came back and responded right away.”
In the first game, Manhattan’s Aubrey Jung and Derby’s Ashlynn Godown each threw four scoreless innings before Manhattan finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth, getting a double from Savannah Thaemert and scoring her on an error later in the inning to take a 1-0 lead.
Jung continued to blank the Panthers until finding trouble in the seventh inning, when she allowed four hits and three runs to give Derby the lead. Manhattan leadoff-hitter Alex Perez hit a double that rolled all the way to the fence in the bottom of the seventh, with Thaemert reaching base on a slow roller to third. Derby conceded second base to Thaemert with Perez on third, with Perez scoring and Thaemert moving to third on a passed ball later in the at-bat.
After a Kylie Smith pop up, the Panther defense made an error that helped keep the Manhattan rally alive. Kori Bridegam hit a ground ball to the Derby shortstop, who tried to get Perez at third but missed with the throw, allowing Bridegam, who represented the go-ahead run, to get to second base with one out.
But Jenna Stigge struck out looking and Jung was retired on a routine groundout to end the comeback attempt.
“The bottom of the order did a good job in the fifth inning,” Mall said. “Savannah Thaemert got a huge double and we were able to get her in and take the lead. We felt good.
“Then we rallied in the last inning, had runners in scoring position, got one run in and had runners, but couldn’t quite come up with the hit to get us the win.”
In the second game, Manhattan ran into an offensive juggernaut in Wichita Northwest. The Grizzlies defeated Derby 14-11 in the previous game and kept hitting against Manhattan starter Tyler Hoyt.
Northwest took a 3-0 lead in the first, but the Indians managed to score three runs of their own in the second inning on an RBI double by Allie Massanet and an RBI single by Smith.
The Grizzlies answered back though, scoring two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 9-5 lead. They would score four more in the sixth inning to get to double-digit runs.
“Wichita Northwest this year has been scoring a lot of runs,” Mall said. “I don’t know if they’ve had a game this year that they’ve scored less than 10 runs. They hit the ball well — if they get any pitch they like, they hit it hard.”
The Grizzlies did hit it hard, with most of their lineup making solid contact. The team rarely popped out or struck out, while smacking nine extra-base hits, which put pressure on the Manhattan defense.
“We made some mistakes, but we made a lot of defensive plays so they had to earn what they got,” Mall said. “I thought for the most part, we did a good job. That’s one of the best hitting games we’ve had, against a very good team. They’re one of the top teams in the state right now. When they scored, we’d come back and score, and you like to see that.”
Smith finished the second game 3 for 3 with three RBIs, while Massanet was 2 for 3 with a double. Perez was 1 for 2 with a double and Stigge was 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
Hoyt took the loss, allowing 19 hits and 13 runs.
Despite the losses, Mall said he thinks his team is beginning to come around offensively.
“I thought we did a good job against Shawnee Heights last Friday, and this game, we got good hits late,” he said. “We still hit the ball in that last inning, which is good. We’re getting hitting up and down our lineup from different spots.
“It was nice to score that many against Wichita Northwest, we just needed to score more.”
Manhattan was to play a doubleheader on the road today against Junction City, starting at 4 p.m.