Facing undefeated Seaman at Anneberg Park Wednesday afternoon, the Manhattan High softball team lost a pair of games to the Vikings, falling 4-0 in the first game and 9-4 in the second game, which was called after five innings because of lightning.
Considering the caliber of competition, Manhattan head coach Scott Mall was pleased with his team’s effort in the twinbill, especially when the Indians put the pressure on to begin Game 2 by taking a 4-0 lead.
“We hit the ball really well, right off the bat,” Mall said. “The girls did a good job at the plate, made some things happen and got some hits. Then we had the one inning where defensively we struggled, and gave up a couple runs.”
The Vikings scored two runs in the third before putting up five in the fourth inning to take the lead for good.
“They’re a good hitting team, they’re batting average is like .400, but they strung together a lot of hits,” Mall said. “I thought Sydney (Bannister) made good pitches, they just scored runs.”
After struggling at the plate in the first game, Manhattan came out swinging in the second game, scoring a run in the first inning on an Alex Perez groundout after Savannah Thaemert singled and Madi Fief doubled.
In the second inning, Manhattan took a 4-0 lead with its best offensive frame of the day, getting back-to-back singles from Chelsey Henry and Miranda Hemmert before Abby Whitney’s sac bunt moved them both into scoring position. Amanda Gross logged an RBI on a groundout before Aubrey Jung hit an RBI single to score a second run. After a single by Thaemert, Fief reached on a ball misplayed by the shortstop that dribbled slowly into center field, scoring Jung from second base to stake the Indians to a four-run lead.
Bannister, who cruised through the first two innings while allowing just two baserunners, found trouble in the top of the third, with an error to leadoff the inning providing a baserunner for Seaman slugger Kylie Dillon, who hit an RBI double to get the Vikings on the board. Dillon would later score in the inning after a pair of passed balls to make it 4-2.
Seaman took the lead in the fourth inning, putting up five runs while batting around, including a pair of doubles and six hits total. Dani Spence hit a two-out, two-run single to cap the scoring.
The Vikings added a pair of runs in the top of the fifth behind a pair of doubles to pad the lead, and Manhattan left two baserunners on after back-to-back strikeouts in the bottom of the inning before the game was called for lightning.
“I felt good about it,” Mall said. “I thought the girls stayed into it, and when things went bad, they still got after it and made some defensive plays. I wish we could have played it out, because I think we could have challenged them.
“Maybe we don’t win, but challenging a good team is a good step for this part of the season.”
Bannister pitched five innings, allowing nine runs on 12 hits, with nine of those hits coming in the last two frames.
In Game 1, the Indians struggled to get much going against starter Hailey Reed, who threw seven shutout innings and gave up just four hits - all singles - to Manhattan hitters.
The Indians got hits in each of the first three innings against Reed and were able to move them into scoring position, but each were stranded on the bases as Manhattan struggled to make contact. Reed struck out 14 Manhattan batters, while walking none.
Jung, who started for Manhattan, was solid also, allowing four runs on 11 hits while stranding 10 Seaman baserunners to minimize the damage.
“We got some hits kind of scattered around, we played good defense and I thought Aubrey pitched great,” Mall said. “They’re undefeated and have a real good team, with a high batting average. I thought she pitched one of her best games of the year. They managed to get a couple runs here and there and that was enough, but we played good defense and were in the ballgame to the end. That’s a good starting point for us.”
Seaman scored in the first inning to lead 1-0 on an RBI single by Mikala Smith before getting two runs in the top of the fourth, with Dillon providing a two-out, two-RBI double.
The Vikings got back-to-back doubles by Smith and Lexi Price to lead off the fifth and hold a 4-0 advantage.
Lindsey Hageman, Thaemert, Perez and Bannister each had a hit for the Indians in the loss.
With just two more doubleheaders left in the regular season, Mall said he wants his team to play a game where every aspect of the team - hitting, pitching and defense - performs well.
“I hope we can hit the ball like we did early in this second game, and put it all together,” Mall said. “The pitching has been much better lately, both girls have been sharper. Defensively, we had a good game. These girls have been trying and working hard everyday to get better. We do better things all the time, we’d just like to see them get rewarded with some wins.”