Cloud County Softball Team Ends Season with Pair of Home Losses to #15 Neosho County
Ending the 2022 campaign on their home field, the Cloud County Community College softball team would not be able to overcome strong pitching along with defensive woes as 15th-ranked Neosho County Community College would sweep a doubleheader by scores of 5-0 and 13-1 at the CCCC Softball Field in Concordia, Kansas on Saturday, May 7th.
Finishing the year with an 18-33 overall record, CCCC ends its first year under head coach John Kelly with a 6-33 mark in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference while Neosho improves to 31-14 overall and 21-8 in the KJCCC. The 18 wins for the T-Birds marks a 10-win improvement from the 2021 campaign and the most since the 2018 season that saw Cloud County win 21 games.
Two early runs given up by CCCC in the top of the first would lead to problems for the T-Birds as an error and two hits would bring home the two runs in what would be the only scoring saw through the first four innings of the game. Heading into the top of the fifth with the deficit still at two runs, Cloud County would see the Panthers turn a walk into a pair of runs with one out in the inning as a two-run home run from cleanup hitter Hannah Duin would double the NCCC lead to 4-0 with CCCC still looking for their first baserunner of the game.
Following two quick outs at the plate in the bottom of the fifth, freshman Mia Kelly would turn a bunt down the third-base line into CCCC's first hit of the game before being cut down on the base paths on the next pitch after trying to steal second. Keeping Neosho from adding to their lead in the sixth, the T-Birds would be retired in order in their own end of the sixth before seeing a leadoff double and groundout help lead to a single run in the seventh for the Panthers as the 5-0 lead would hold with Cloud County stranding a leadoff single from Ryleigh Jones at third to end the game.
Limited to just two hits in the game, CCCC would be kept in check all game by starting Neosho pitcher Olivia Cummings who would strike out 12 batters and face just one batter over the minimum while needing just 88 pitches to toss a complete game. Cloud County would get seven strikeouts of their own from freshman Taylor Dekok but see three walks and five hits lead to five runs (four earned) as four errors would also prove costly.
Looking to end the season on a high note, the T-Birds would see two errors lead to an unearned run in the top of the first for NCCC before getting their first run of the afternoon by using back-to-back singles from Jones and Shayna Fila to set up an RBI situation for Zoie Kincade on a bases-loaded walk after seeing Dekok draw a walk two batters earlier. Despite being able to tie the score at 1-1, CCCC would leave the bases loaded with a groundout ending the inning in what would prove to be a key moment of the game that Cloud County would be unable to capitalize on.
A one-out walk for Neosho would begin a big inning for the Panthers as the next three batters would all connect on base hits to drive in a pair of runs and give NCCC a 3-1 lead. After a wild pitch would bring home another run and put another in scoring position, the Panthers would see a pop out in foul territory put a second out on the board before getting greedy on the base paths by trying to turn a two-out RBI single into a double with Cloud County ending the inning by throwing out the runner at second.
Now facing a 5-1 deficit, CCCC would be unable to get anything going offensively in the bottom of the second before seeing things come apart in the top of the third as a two-out rally by the Panthers would turn a 5-1 game into a 10-1 game. The biggest moment in the inning would come with the bases loaded and two outs as a routine ground ball would be mishandled and extend the inning in what would have otherwise been a scoreless frame for Neosho. Following the error, back-to-back RBI doubles would bring home four more runs in the inning to cap off a five-run inning that saw none of the runs come as earned runs.
Needing to cut into what would be at the time their largest deficit of the day, the T-Birds would once again have troubles at the plate as a one-two-three inning would end the third before finally being able to keep NCCC off the scoreboard in the fourth by stranding a pair of runners. Unable to turn a leadoff double from Kelsey Bohnsack into anything productive offensively, Cloud County would see Neosho tack on three more runs in the top of the fifth with four-straight hits to begin the inning and take a 13-1 lead that CCCC would be held scoreless in a must-score fifth inning to see the game end early.
Of the 13 runs scored by Neosho, only seven would be earned as Alexis Billings would take the loss after throwing 4.1 innings and striking out just two. Cutting their strikeouts from game one in half down to just six, the T-Birds would strand five runners and draw just two walks as Bohnsack's double would be the only extra-base hit of the game for CCCC with just four hits total recorded by Cloud County.