Tabor softball struggles for wins

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Tabor softball team picked up only one win in six outings last week, but coach Donovan Nelson likes the improvement he’s seeing in his club since the season began.


Tabor lost doubleheaders to Hastings (Neb.) College on Thursday and Graceland University from Liberty, Mo., on Saturday, but split with Bethany on Friday to bring its record to 2-15 on the season.


The win-loss record isn’t indicative of his team’s play on the field, Nelson said.


“Our play has improved greatly,” Nelson said. “Over the first seven games, we had scored only two runs. Now, over the past 10 games, we’ve scored 39. So we’ve made drastic improvements. Also, we’ve eliminated the games where we’ve given up 12, 15, 18 runs. So we’re putting ourselves in good position.”


Hastings-The Bluejays were shut out by Hastings in their opener, 6-0. Tabor actually out hit the visitors eight to seven, and played them even on the scoreboard through five innings before Hastings broke through with a six-run fifth inning.


In the nightcap, the story was much the same. The Jays out hit Hastings seven to two, but the visitors scored one run in fourth inning and two runs in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead.


Tabor managed their lone score in the top of the seventh on singles by Tesha Werth, Jennie Ewertt and Katie Roth.


Bethany-Tabor rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh to wipeout a 5-3 Bethany lead and beat the Swedes in the first game.


Shelby Griffith, Stacy Kuhns and Sarah Frick each singled and Griffith scored on an error. With two out, Sara Janzen walked and Misty Collins followed with a two-run single to put Tabor on top.


The Swedes retaliated in the nightcap, breaking open a close game with eight runs in the fourth inning to take an 11-2 lead.


Threatened by the eight-run run rule, Tabor came back with a six-run fifth to pull into contention, 11-8. But Bethany picked up where they left off and scored five in their half of the inning to win by run rule.


Graceland-The Bluejays played well against Graceland University, which came into the game undefeated, but lost, 3-0, 6-5.


Nelson was an assistant coach at Graceland before coming to Tabor.


“I had to swallow a little bit of pride because three kids I recruited to play are still there,” he said. “They’re a terrific ball club and hit the ball as well as any team we’ve seen.”


In the opener, Graceland scored two runs in the first inning and made them stand up before adding a third run in the fifth. Graceland out hit Tabor only 7-6, but the Bluejays couldn’t find a way to score.


In the second game, Tabor pushed Graceland to a 5-5 tie in the bottom of seventh inning before allowing the winning run to cross with two outs.


“I was a little disappointed with our hitting,” Nelson said. “It may be that we have an inability to know how to win. That’s something we have to learn.”


But Nelson said his team has learned a lot of other things that have contributed to a stronger performance on the field.


“Defensively, we’re cutting down on our mistakes,” he said. “The key now is not to make mistakes at costly times. That’s where we’re struggling right now. We also need to eliminate our wild pitches and passed balls, which are free bases. We’re doing better, but we’re not where we need to be.


“Offensively, our batting average has jumped some 40 points over the past eight games. That’s a major difference in where we’re at. We’re not where we need to be in terms of consistency among our top nine, but we’re improving.”


Tabor was scheduled to play Central Christian College of McPherson on Tuesday in Hillsboro. Today, they are scheduled for games against Friends in Wichita and Saturday they will play at Hesston College.

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