COLUMBIA — This was not how Molly Carter envisioned her first home game on the mound.
After the Hickman softball team held Southern Boone scoreless in the first inning, the Eagles got to the Kewpies' freshman pitcher in the following frame, gathering six runs on seven hits. The Eagles were never challenged after that, pulling away for a 12 to 6 win Tuesday at the Rainbow Softball Complex at Cosmopolitan Park.
Carter’s pitches were sprayed all over the field, as Eagles base runners circled the bases and piled up run after run. However, that was hardly evident when looking at the young pitcher.
Despite each hit and run, Carter kept smiling.
“If you get down, then they’re getting into your head and they are going to score more on you,” Carter said. “The more you stay positive the quicker you get out of it.”
Although she yielded six runs over only two innings, Hickman coach Courtney Haskell said she thinks Carter’s thick skin will serve her well throughout the season.
“She’s a very tough girl. She can handle a lot, and when you’re put in a situation like that, you have to be able to handle it. She can do that,” Haskell said.
The Kewpies (4-3) continued to support their starter, even throughout the disastrous second inning.
Catcher Nell Chronister yelled encouragement from behind the plate. Haskell high-fived Carter and attempted to reassure her. Shortstop Andrea Drake, Carter’s close friend, frequented the mound with jokes to loosen the mood.
Drake and Carter even met several times in the infield, interlocking their hands in an unusual handshake. As Drake explained, the ritual is something the two players do to have a little fun.
“Everybody has a normal handshake. We decided that we needed to have an awkward handshake,” Drake said. “We started doing some and playing around, and we’ve been doing that ever since. It’s just something between me and her.”
Carter earned a small bit of revenge later in the game, launching a solo home run to right field in the sixth inning. This was no surprise to Drake, who joked that a home run competition between the two could be imminent.
“I told her we’re going to have a competition this year, and I was looking forward to it. I was getting bored, so I was ready for her to step it up,” Drake said. “I’m actually surprised it didn’t come sooner.”
Despite the loss, the Kewpies stayed focused on positives. Whether expressed through a yell of encouragement, an awkward handshake, or a smile, the team knows they can depend on each other.
“Now we’re all getting along, and it’s big that we can trust each other on the field and know that we’re all going to step on the field and do whatever we can to win,” Drake said.
She smiled before adding, “We all know that there isn’t much we wouldn’t do for each other."