It could have been much worse.
In a subtle but noticeable display of sportsmanship, Fatima softball coach Ryan Robertson began holding base runner late in Tuesday’s game against Rock Bridge to keep from running up the score on a struggling Bruins’ team.
“It would have been a 15-run game had he not held runners,” Rock Bridge coach Jennifer Mast said. “I mean, we wouldn’t even have played seven innings. It was nice of him to do that, but it’s frustrating.”
As it was, the Rock Bridge softball team lost 11-4 on Tuesday at Rock Bridge Field, dropping to 3-9 on the season.
Through four innings, the Bruins appeared to be in good position. Rock Bridge pitcher Kayla Turnbull held Fatima to three runs — one earned — and, although the Bruins couldn’t get anything going at the plate, the game was still very much in reach when Fatima’s Victoria Stuecken came to the plate to lead off the fifth inning.
Then things got sloppy. Turnbull opened the inning by walking the first two batters and Mast brought in sophomore Kelsey Oerly to replace her on the mound. But a shaky Bruin defense, coupled with some timely Fatima hits, turned everything upside down. By the time the dust cleared, Rock Bridge found itself in a 7-0 hole going into the bottom of the sixth
“I’m very unhappy,” Mast said. “We did nothing at the plate. Defensively, we made some errors again. It’s just the same old problems.”
The Bruins have struggled with defensive mishaps for much of the season, and Tuesday was no exception. In addition to multiple wild pitches, the Rock Bridge defense committed three errors and allowed six unearned runs.
“We need to work on communicating in the field better,” said Oerly, who pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief. “We need to show heart. I mean, we have that now, but we have to start showing it if we want to win games.”
The Bruins struggled as much at the plate. Fatima pitcher Rachel Veit had a perfect game through 5 1/3 innings before Rock Bridge’s Christine Bildner reached on an error in the sixth. Veit finished with seven strikeouts and allowed two earned runs.
“She had an incredible night,” Mast said of Veit. “Our kids couldn’t seem to get a handle on her. She had the outside-corner pitches working very well. They’d either watch it go by for a third strike, or they’d swing at it and not be able to get to it. She did a great job.”
The Bruins put together a strong seventh inning, scoring three runs on three hits. Heather Walters led off the inning with an infield hit and Emily Lay followed with a walk. Two batters later Crystal Chapin tripled when Fatima’s right-fielder misplayed a line drive. That scored Walters and Lay, making the score 11-3. Christine Bildner then reached safely on a bunt, scoring Chapin and pushing the score to 11-4. But that would be it for the Bruins.
“I’ll tell you one thing,” Robertson said. “They don’t quit. They were down and out in the seventh inning and they came right back and scored three quick runs on us. So that right there goes to show you that they’ve got heart.”