Columbia College softball team splits home opener against Missouri Baptist

Monday, March 21, 2011 | 8:36 p.m. CDT; updated 12:32 a.m. CDT, Friday, March 25, 2011

COLUMBIA — The Columbia College softball team's mantra was to "get back and get more."

The Cougars won 4-0 in the first game of a doubleheader against visiting Missouri Baptist on Monday in their home opener, but the offense stalled in the second game, losing 2-1 despite the Cougars' loud cheers to get back in the game and get more runs.

“Frankly they wanted it more than us,” Columbia College coach Wendy Spratt said. “We allowed them to continue to play with us.”

Chatter from the Cougars' bench reached its zenith in the top of the seventh of the second game when freshman Kristin Eiken came to the plate with the game tied at 1, with a runner on second and two out. The loud ping of the bat on the ball brought all of the Cougars to their feet, but a collective groan was followed after the pop of the ball into a glove.

In the bottom of the inning, Missouri Baptist (13-6) scored on a grounder to the left side, leaving the Cougars (12-5) to absorb their first loss since the Gulf Coast Invitational two weekends ago.

Sophomore catcher Tori Gehlert echoed her coach’s sentiment that Columbia College, which has played in seven one-run games so far this season, let the second game slip away.

“We’re definitely a better team than we showed,” Gelhert said. “We should have beat that team by 10 runs.”

Senior co-captain Valerie Teter (8-4) fought through injury to pitch both games for the Cougars. Teter injured her pinky finger last week before the McKendree Invitational, and Spratt said that while the injury had definitely affected some of Teter’s pitches, her effort was impressive.

“She’s a warrior,” Spratt said. “We’re proud of her for sticking it out and keeping us in the game.”

Despite winning the first game, the mood was somber. Splitting the first two conference games of the season did not sit well with any of the Cougars, who said they should be the favorites to win the American Midwest Conference. Columbia College is set to play at California Baptist (No. 1 in the NAIA at 31-1) on March 30 and at California State-San Marcos (No. 7 at 28-5) on April 1, but Spratt is adamant that the team is not looking ahead.

“Conference games are what it’s all about,” Spratt said.

Columbia College is set to face McKendree University (10-9) on Thursday in O’Fallon, Ill., in another AMC doubleheader. The first game is set for 2 p.m.

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