COLUMBIA — Shrieks and squeals pierce the air, air that just before was filled with a quiet postgame calm as fans left Antimi Black ball field at Cosmopolitan Park.
There is a commotion in right field. The Columbia College softball team gathers around the tarp they had begun to unroll to protect the field from predicted rain. They all seem to be looking at something.
The Columbia College softball team ended its regular season with a doubleheader sweep of Benedictine University, winning the first game 6-0 and the second 9-1 in six innings. The Cougars completed the season with an overall record of 19-16 and an American Midwest Conference record of 14-4.
In Game 1, freshman pitcher Tiffany Urwiler earned her fifth win of the season, allowing three hits and no runs over six innings. Sophomore Kristyn Caldwell pitched the seventh inning, allowing just one hit to secure the shutout victory.
Juniors Jamie Holmes and Whitni Howell led the offense with a combined four hits, two runs and two RBIs.
In Game 2, freshman pitcher Amber Boehme earned her team-high seventh win of the season, allowing one run and three hits over six innings.
Junior Kristin Eiken and sophomore Taylor Atwood combined for four hits and five RBIs.
The Cougars are the No. 3 seed in the AMC postseason tournament, which begins Friday at Antimi Black ball field in Cosmopolitan Park. The bracket schedule will be posted at www.amcsportsonline.com.
From behind home plate, it's difficult to tell exactly what's happening. The few friends and family members of the players who remain offer guesses.
They found a snake, some suggest. Or maybe a frog.
Even from far away, and even after the Cougars ended their regular season Monday with 6-0 and 9-1 victories in a doubleheader sweep of Benedictine University, Mitch Gosney tries to offer some explanation.
This was the Columbia College senior's first season as the team's public address announcer. During the games, he announces each Cougars player as she walks up to the plate, with her designated introductory song playing in the background.
But he doesn't stop there. He has a few signature phrases up his sleeve, including an enthusiastic growl for senior outfielder Karina Veit. This growl doesn't work so well for others on the team, which Gosney discovered after experimenting with sophomore catcher Taylor Atwood's name at a previous games.
"TAYLOR," he growled, almost forced, and then, "Atwood," spoken with a normal inflection, like an afterthought. Gosney's friends in the stands laughed at the failed attempt.
Gosney is dating Columbia College senior outfielder Lauren Berkbuegler and hangs out with the team, so he just has fun with it, he said.
As the scene in the outfield continues to unfold, Gosney offers his own play-by-play.
"Somebody caught it," he announces, still unsure of exactly what "it" is. The microphone and sound system had already been dissembled, but people still listened. "They're giving it to somebody else. Marli (Hayes) had it."
With the Cougars' remaining home games dwindling, Gosney's days as PA announcer will soon come to a close.
He'll miss it, he says. It's been fun for him.
The scene in right field draws to a dramatic conclusion. It wasn't a snake. It wasn't a frog. It was a rabbit, a young rabbit so small it could fit in the palm of your hand.
The team continues to roll out the tarp while commenting on the rabbit's cuteness. Some suggest keeping it. Gosney stays and watches.
He's always ready to see the next big event on the field, whether it's during the games or not.