Cloud County Softball Snags Come-from-Behind Victory to Earn Home Split with Northeast Community College

Cloud County's Taryn McKinney Came On in Relief in Game Two to Throw 3.1 Innings and Pick Up Her First Pitching Victory of the Year
Cloud County's Taryn McKinney Came On in Relief in Game Two to Throw 3.1 Innings and Pick Up Her First Pitching Victory of the Year

Concluding an eight-game homestand before getting set to embark on a 10-game road trip, the Cloud County Community College softball team would avenge a 9-5 game one loss to Northeast Community College by earning an 11-10 come-from-behind victory to split a non-conference doubleheader at the CCCC Softball Field in Concordia, Kansas on Sunday, March 12th.

Snapping a five-game losing streak in game two, Cloud County is now 4-10 overall on the year while Northeast has now split their first six games of the season to sit at 3-3 overall with all six games coming against Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference foes.

Giving up an unearned run after a leadoff infield single and error that would put a runner in scoring position to come around to score two batters later, the T-Birds would manage to push across a run o their own in the bottom of the first as leadoff batter Ryleigh Jones would record a single into right field before stealing second and third to allow freshman Kaitlynn Baca to drive her home on a single down the left field line. Baca would eventually move into scoring position with one out in the inning but ultimately be stranded as two flyouts would end the inning and keep things tied at 1-1.

Another CCCC error would prove costly in the top of the second as NECC would take advantage of a one-out walk and single up the middle to put two runners aboard before having a groundout put both runners in scoring position with two outs. Following a two-RBI double to put the Hawks up 3-1, a fielding error on a potential inning-ending ground ball would bring home one more run to put Northeast up 4-1.

A quick one-two-three inning for CCCC in the bottom of the second would allow NECC to get back to the plate where a five-run inning would commence with three walks and three hits breaking the game open for the Hawks to make it a 9-1 contest. Cloud County would get one run back in the bottom of the third with another Jones leadoff single and stolen base coming around to score on an Emily Kvasnicka RBI double before seeing Northeast escape the rest of the inning unscathed with a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.

Both teams would be held scoreless in the fourth before seeing the Hawks strand a pair of one-out singles in the fifth with CCCC still trailing by a 9-2 score. With the top of the order due up, Cloud County would push across two more runs on a Baca RBI groundout to score Jones and Hannah Hotalen RBI single to score McKenna Mayhew to continue to chip away at the Hawk lead. A promising-looking bottom of the sixth would then see a leadoff double by Zoie Kincade and Mia Kelly base hit to put runners on the corners with no outs, but a 6-3-5 double play on the next at-bat would quickly put two outs on the board. The T-Bird would extend the inning with base hits from Baca and Kvasnicka while seeing Kincade score but have a groundout back to the pitcher end the inning with Cloud County pushing across just one run.

In the seventh, CCCC would retire NECC in order, but be able to only muster a one-out walk by Brooklynn McCormick as no true threat of a final-inning rally would emerge. Outhitting Northeast 15-9 in the game would be Cloud County but it would be the Hawks who would take advantage of six walks while stranding just seven runners to the nine of the T-Birds. Of CCCC's 15 hits, three would go for extra bases with Cloud County also being aggressive on the base paths and stealing seven bases. In the circle, Cloud County would use three different pitchers with Jayden Rehlander (2.1 innings), Kiera Brack (2.2 innings), and Lynsey Stewart (2.0 innings) all seeing time at pitcher.

Two scoreless innings to begin the game would make way for a scoring explosion over the final five innings of play as both teams would strand runners in the first before being retired in order in the second. A big top of the third for Northeast would see a leadoff double start off a stretch of six-straight batters to begin the inning safely reaching base with the Hawks sending 10 batters to the plate in the inning and scoring six runs on five hits and three walks to grab a 6-0 lead.

Taking advantage of free passes in the bottom of the third, each of the first five batters for Cloud County in their end of the inning would reach base by walk to bring home two runs and have the bases loaded with no outs and the middle of the order due up. A Mayhew sacrifice fly would bring home another run for the T-Birds before an inning-ending double play that would end the CCCC rally after cutting the Hawk lead in half heading to the fourth.

Defensive miscues would cost Cloud County in the top of the fourth as a fielding error would allow a leadoff baserunner to reach base and come around to score later in the inning on a wild pitch before seeing the T-Bird defense manage to strand two Northeast runners in scoring position. The lead for NECC would grow to 8-3 in the top of the fifth following three-straight base-hit singles to begin the inning as the Hawks would look to be heading for another big inning before a strikeout and groundout would end the inning with the bases loaded for Northeast with just one run coming across.

Facing a similar deficit to what was seen in game one, Cloud County would manage to finally break through for a big inning as the bats would come alive with five hits and an error by the Northeast defense leading to a five-run inning to tie the game at 8-8. RBI hits in the inning would come from Mayhew, Hotalen, Jayden Rehlander, and Zoie Kincade with Rehlander driving home two of the five runs in the inning on a two-out hit into left field.

The scoring would not be done for either team as Northeast would use another error by Cloud County to put a leadoff base runner aboard before using a sacrifice bunt and groundout to move the runner to third and eventually score on a wild pitch to go back up 9-8. Walks once again would become a problem for the Hawk pitching staff however as CCCC would draw two walks to begin the bottom of the inning before a Kvasnicka single and Mayhew fielder's choice that would see all runners advance safely and tie things back up at 9-9. A Hotalen sacrifice fly would bring home Baca to break the tie and put Cloud County up for the first time on the day as the T-Birds would push across one more run on an RBI walk by Kincade to carry an 11-9 lead into the seventh.

Making a pitching change to try and close out a victory, Cloud County would see get two quick groundouts by Northeast stand just one out away from picking up a split of the day before seeing things become interesting as a double and base-hit single would put runners on the corners for NECC. The game would then be extended with the fourth error of the game by the T-Birds to bring the Hawks within a run at 11-10, before ultimately stranding the game-tying run 60 feet away as an infield popup would end the game.

After seeing free passes and errors be an issue in game one of the doubleheader, it would be Cloud County who would flip the script by taking advantage of eight walks and scoring four unearned runs on a Northeast error to earn a win despite being outhit 15-8 in the contest. Mayhew (three), along with Kincade and Rehlander (two each) would all drive in multiple runs in the contest to lead CCCC with Rehlander and Mayhew accounting for the only two extra-base hits by the T-Birds.

Another three pitchers would be used by Cloud County in game two, with Taylor Dekok taking a no-decision after throwing the first 2.2 innings before seeing Taryn McKinney pick up her first pitching win of the year after throwing 3.1 innings in relief and allowing just three runs (one earned) while striking out three. Recording the first save of the year by a CCCC pitcher would be Stewart after pitching the seventh inning and allowing one unearned run on two hits to secure the victory for the T-Birds.

What's Next?
Each of Cloud County's next six games will take place against foes from the State of Nebraska and will begin with a 1 PM doubleheader at Southeast Community College on Tuesday, March 14th. The Storm had a road doubleheader at Allen County Community College on Sunday afternoon and had entered the day with an 0-4 overall record after opening their season with a four-game series against Iowa Lakes Community College.