The Manhattan High softball team traveled to Shawnee Heights on Friday and lost two competitive games in the doubleheader. In each game, the T-Birds used one big inning to make the difference in the score.
Manhattan lost game one 5-2 and fell 9-5 in the nightcap.
In the first game, both teams were scoreless through the first four innings. The big inning for Shawnee Heights started in less-than-ominous fashion, as Aubrey Jung retired the first two batters on a strikeout and a fly ball.
After a base hit from the next batter, the next play and the next call had a huge impact on the results. On a ground ball to shortstop, the play was made to get the force-out at second base that would have ended the inning, but the runner was called safe. The T-Birds took full advantage, rattling off five straight hits to score five runs and post a 5-0 lead.
Manhattan did come back in the sixth, as Kori Bridegam led off with a base hit and stole second. Jenna Stigge followed with a single and also stole second base. After two groundouts, Tyler Hoyt delivered a two-out, two-RBI single to make the score 5-2.
The Indians scored again in the seventh when Kylie Smith doubled with one out, and after a strike-out, Stigge singled to drive in Smith. This brought the potential tying run to the plate, but Shawnee Heights ended the game on a ground-out.
Stigge and Jung each collected two hits to lead the offense. Freshman Madi Fief collected the first hit of her varsity career. Jung took her first loss of the season, allowing 12 hits while striking out three and walking three and shutting out the T-Birds for all but one inning. The Indian defense played error-free and turned two double plays.
Shawnee Heights got off to a good start in the second game.
Manhattan starter Tyler Hoyt struggled to get comfortable, as the pitcher’s mound was in terrible shape because of the wet conditions. The T-Birds scored two runs in the first after two outs on a walk, a single, a double and two errors by the Indians, which advanced runners.
But the Indians came back with two of their own in the second. With two outs, Hoyt reached on an error and Fief doubled her home. After two walks, Fief scored on a passed ball to tie the score.
Heights came right back in the bottom of the second inning to score three. The first two batters reached on walks and a single scored one. An outfield error allowed the lead runner to advance to third, where she scored on a sacrifice fly. Heights’ Kelsey Morgan doubled in the third run.
The Indians responded with a run in the third. Bridegam led off with a walk, advanced on a ground ball, then scored on a two-out single by Allie Massanet.
Manhattan added another run in the fourth to close the gap to 5-4. Fief reached on an error and was bunted into scoring position by Alex Perez. After a strikeout, Smith singled to score Fief.
Shawnee Heights scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take control of the game. After a leadoff single, Morgan hit a one-out, two-run home run. Three successive singles, a couple of throwing errors and a ground-out plated two more runs to make the score 9-4.
The Indians scored again in the fifth when Bridegam led off with a single, advanced to third, and scored on a ground out by Jung. They threatened again in the sixth, as Hoyt led off with an infield single and freshman Caitlyn Claussen contributed with her first base hit of the season and a stolen base, but the T-Birds were able to turn three ground balls into outs.
Hoyt found her groove in the final two innings, retiring all six batters, aided by the Indian’s third double play of the night.
Smith led the offense with two hits and an RBI. Bridegam and Fief each scored twice. Hoyt allowed 11 hits, while striking out two and walking two.
It is a busy five-day stretch for the Indians as they are scheduled to host a make-up triangular with state powers Wichita Northwest and Derby today. Manhattan was scheduled to play at 3 p.m. and again in the third game, at approximately 7 p.m. They then travel to Junction City on Tuesday for a league doubleheader.