By Don Brown
Missed opportunities and some shoddy fielding cost the Cougars dearly last Friday in Campbellsville as they lost 2-1 to the host Taylor County Cardinals.
This game proved to be a showcase for senior right-hander Victoria Decker, who will be playing for Campbellsville University next season. Several players and coaches from the Tiger team were on hand to root for her.
Decker pitched well enough to win the game, allowing just five hits, while walking one and striking out four, but two errors in the third inning and two more in the seventh led to both Taylor County runs.
But it was the missed opportunities that hurt the most for the Cougars. Back-to-back doubles by Decker and Jessika Young in the first inning accounted for a run, but with young at second and only one out, the Cardinals’ Becca Orbeson got Megan England to pop out and Amber Dotson to strike out looking to end the threat.
Back-to-back singles by Cathy Langley and Kaylan Shull, and a wild pitch put both runners at second and third with no outs and the strongest part of the lineup coming to the plate. But Orbeson struck out Decker, induced Young to pop out and got England to ground out to end that rally.
A double by Shull and a single by Decker had Cougars at the corners with just one out in the fifth, but Young flew out to right and England popped out again and the Cougars were once again turned away.
Karissa Mingus replaced Orbeson in the circle in the top of the seventh and struck out the side. She then turned out to be the winning pitcher when the Cardinals rallied in the bottom half to score the deciding run.
The Cardinals tied the game 1-1 in the third inning. With one out, second baseman Cheyenne Mason doubled to right field. When the ball was mishandled by Dotson in right, Mason moved to third base.
Catcher Courtney Hunt followed with a chopper in front of the plate. Decker fielded the ball and threw to first for what should have been the first out, but Myranda Ward was off the bag and Hunt was called safe and Mason came in to score to make it 1-1.
The score stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh. Third baseman Kaelin Hughes singled leading off, and Howard followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt. Cougar catcher Ashley Milliner fielded the ball in front of the plate, but her throw to first nearly hit Howard. Ward was unable to field the throw and it skipped down the line in right, putting runners at second and third with no outs.
Decker then pitched around Orbeson to load the bases and set up force outs everywhere. Mason followed by lining a pitch to Shull at short. Shull would have had an easy double play at third as Orbeson was well up the line, but she lost the handle on the ball and saw it trickle out of her glove for an error as the winning run crossed the plate.
The loss snapped a 16-game winning streak for the Cougars and dropped their record to 23-4-1 for the season.