Chelsea Ahrens couldn't explain it following Thursday's home loss to Gladbrook-Reinbeck.
It might have been the change in time or maybe the fact that there was no junior varsity game before the varsity contest. It might have been the lack of a game on Wednesday.
Whatever the reason, South Tama's head varsity softball coach had trouble explaining why her team struggled early in Thursday's contest. STC gave up three runs, committed two errors and recorded two hits during the first two innings of action. The Trojans scored two runs as they closed the gap later, but fell 3-2 to the Rebels, who beat the Trojans 2-1 on June 5.
South Tama's Belle Tyynismaa, right, tags out a Gladbrook-Reinbeck runner who was caught off of third base during Thursday's game.
"Maybe it had something to do with there not being a JV game," Ahrens said. "I was kind of worried before the game because the schedule was different. We got here, there was no game going on and it was time to play. We have to get used to that, because that's what happens in the regional tournament. We have to be ready to go right away."
Gladbrook-Reinbeck came out of the gate strong. The Rebels earned a walk with the lead-off batter, who stole second base. Their second batter hit an RBI single to left field, scoring the opening run of the game in the top half of the first inning. Meanwhile, STC's Riley Craun reached first on an error to start the Trojans' offense. Three batters and three outs later, Craun was stranded at third base.
Eight Gladbrook-Reinbeck batters came up to the plate in the second inning as it scored two runs. The Rebels' first two batters reached base on errors and both scored. South Tama's Jenn Maus struck out two of the final three G-R batters, leaving the bases loaded.
"Those first two innings hurt us with those two mistakes," Ahrens said. "In the first inning, we had two errors on the bunt and then we had the bases-loaded walk. Take those away and it's a whole different ball game."
The Rebels never threatened during the remaining five innings. They had only one hit, a single, during those innings as four of those innings were three-up, three-down innings.
South Tama began its rally in the fourth inning after leaving the bases loaded in the third. Hailee Weiss hit a triple with one out in the fourth. Trisha Walz hit Weiss home with a single to right-center field.
STC's offense continued in the fifth inning, after two quick deep fly balls were caught for outs. Samantha Holtz hit a single to reach base, before Jade Rohach was hit by a pitch while down to a 0-2 count. Holtz moved to third on a passed ball and came home when her sister, Sarah Holtz, hit an RBI single. Weiss loaded the bases with a walk, after she fouled off around 10 pitches.
With a chance to tie the game or take a lead, Walz came up to the plate with bases loaded. She was called for three quick strikes, including the final one, which came at the disbelief of STC fans as the ball appeared to be very low and inside.
"You can't fault (Walz) for that," Ahrens said. "You tell her to protect the plate, but that one was so far down around her ankles. You teach her to protect, but that's a tough call.
"Give credit to Hailee Weiss though," she said. "She's up there for five minutes fouling off 10 or 11 pitches and she drew a walk. That's the kind of stuff that I've been preaching to the kids."
Madison Baack hit a single in the sixth inning, but couldn't get around the bases to score. In the seventh inning, Samantha Holtz reached first, but was left stranded.
"We out hit them," Ahrens said. "I can only think of two or three hits they had. We had opportunities to score. We had bases loaded and couldn't bring anyone home. You couldn't say we weren't in it. We had our chances."
South Tama traveled to South Hardin on Monday and hosted BCLUW on Tuesday. On Wednesday, STC plays Wapsie Valley at home, before traveling to State Center to play West Marshall on Thursday.