The Seward County Lady Saints took the field Thursday afternoon for their second of five straight double headers at home over the next week and a half. Thursday’s opponent was the Otero Lady Rattlers, a perennial NJCAA National Tournament team that came to Liberal scuffling a little bit with a record of just 12-18. With the wind howling in from left field, the Lady Saints couldn’t find their swing at the plate in game one and would tally just 5 hits in the game, all singles as they would go down 3-1. In game two they would start to pick up the pace on offense but at the expense of their defense as they scored 9 runs on 10 hits but would finish the game with a disappointing 7 errors in a 9-5 win.

The first game of the double dip would look like a classic pitchers dual early on as Seward starter Sydney Cicchetti would strikeout the first two hitters that she would see and would add another to keep the Lady Rattlers off the board through 2 innings while the Lady Saints would manage to get a runner to second base in both the 1st and 2nd innings but would not be able to get anything across as the game remained scoreless into the 3rd. Otero would score the game’s first run as they rolled their lineup over in the 3rd to turn a pair of singles into a tally and go ahead 1-0. Seward would have their next six hitters retired in order and would still face the 1-0 deficit as the teams went to the 5th. The Lady Rattlers picked up their pressure again in the top half of the 5th inning as they got a single and a walk to put two on and no out in the inning. After getting a pair of outs on the infield a walk would load the bases in front of a two RBI single from Ashley Olson to make it a 3-0 game in favor of Otero. The Lady Saints would finally get their first run of the game as Bianca Adame singled to lead off the frame and would steal second and then advance to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a groundout to second by Lynda Musick to make it 3-1. Both teams would go down 1-2-3 in the 6th inning and Cicchetti would set down Otero in order again in the 7th to give the Lady Saints a chance in their final at bats. Taylor McDougall would lead off the 7th for the Lady Saints with a single up the middle but would be retired on a fielder’s choice with one out to put one on and two out in the inning. Ashley Sullivan would then come up with her second hit of the day as she squeezed a bouncing ball through the left side of the infield to bring the winning run to the plate for the Lady Saints. That would be as close as Seward would get to the victory though as a pop up on the infield would end the game and send the Lady Saints home 3-1 losers in game one. All of the Lady Saints offense in the game came from the bottom of their lineup as the first four hitters in the Seward order combined to go 0-12 in the loss. Sullivan was the only Seward hitter to have multiple hits in the game as she finished 2 for 3 while Musick drove in Seward’s only run and Adame scored their only run of the game.
Seward would get down right off the bat in game two as a one out walk followed by an error and a hit would get Otero their first run and the Lady Saints second error of the inning would push across another Lady Rattler run to make it 2-0 after a half inning of play. The lack of defense would rub off on the Lady Rattlers as well as after playing nearly a flawless game one in the field, Otero would make errors on four consecutive plays in the bottom half of the inning with two outs to allow the Lady Saints to score four runs and take their first lead of the day at 4-2. Blaire Taylor would work around a leadoff single from the Lady Rattlers to get a zero in the Otero 2nd and Seward would again benefit from poor Lady Rattler defense in the bottom of the frame as after a one out double from Michelle Duford, a mishandled groundball on the infield would allow her to score with two outs and make it a 5-2 Seward lead. Otero would find the barrel of the bat a couple of times in their half of the 3rd inning as back to back hits to open the inning would score a run and a one out double would plate another to make it a one run game at 5-4. A two out error by Otero in the bottom of the 3rd inning would allow the Lady Saints to extend the inning and they would take advantage with a triple by Leah Sitter to score two and again give them a little bit of a cushion at 7-4. Otero wouldn’t score in the top of the 4th and Seward would waste a pair of singles to start the inning and would not score either so to the 5th the teams went with the Lady Saints still on top 7-4. With two outs in the 5th, Otero would get back to back hits from the bottom of their order to score a run and make it a two run game but the Lady Saints would answer in the bottom half with two runs of their own as Duford smacked a two out single up the middle to score one and Jill Rodgers would launch a double deep to left center field to score her and make it a 9-5 game in favor of the gals in green. After getting a pair of pop ups to start the 6th to quickly make two outs and nobody on, Taylor would have to battle through a mental lapse of the Lady Saints defense that saw them make three errors on two plays and put runners on second and third with two outs. Taylor would come up big though, inducing a pop out on the infield that was taken care of to end the inning and keep the Lady Saints in front by four. A two out single would do no harm for the Lady Saints in the bottom of the 6th but Taylor had all of the support she needed as the Seward freshman mowed through the Lady Rattlers lineup in the top of the 7th for a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the 9-5 win for Seward and give them the split. The two teams would combine for 13 errors in the game as Otero make 6 errors leading to 6 unearned runs while the Lady Saints one-upped them by committing 7 errors in the game. The Lady Saints offense was much better than it was in game one as they pounded out 10 hits led by a 3 for 4 game by Duford who also drove in a pair of runs and scored 3 in the game. Rodgers would finish 2 for 4 with an RBI and Sitter would go 1 for 4 but would drive home 2 and steal a base in the winning cause. Taylor earned the win in the circle, starting and finishing the contest while allowing 4 earned runs and striking out 4.
The Lady Saints are now 22-7 overall on the 2011 campaign and will be right back to action this weekend at Lady Saints Field as they host two more teams from Region 9 when Trinidad State and Western Nebraska come to Liberal for 12:00 starts on both Saturday and Sunday.