Augusta’s softball team finally looked like its old self in Game 2 against Mulvane Friday afternoon.
The Oriole batter went around the order and then some in the fourth inning. Gracie Johnston shut down the Wildcat hitters. The defense was solid. The Orioles played their game and rolled to an 8-1 victory for the team’s first win of the season.
The problem was the Orioles didn’t finish Game 1 in the same manner. The Orioles trailed 2-0, but they rallied to tie it going into the seventh inning. Mulvane pounded the Orioles for six runs, some of which were unearned, and won 8-2.
“Our focus and our chemistry is nowhere near where we need to be, and we’re still trying to find that. We have a talented good, but talent doesn’t win games,” coach Shane Steinkamp said. “It’s how you work together. We haven’t done that all year until this last game.”
Augusta is now 1-3 on the season, but the Orioles were in this exact spot last year before rattling off 16 straight wins to close the season. This year’s squad is hopeful to pull off a similar run. Steinkamp didn’t hesitate to be stern and make some defensive adjustments for the team.
“I don’t like to do it, but it has to be done,” Steinkamp said.
It helps when Augusta gets the type of pitching performance Gracie Johnston turned in. For the most part, she shut down Mulvane’s lineup all game. She finished with a whopping 14 strikeouts. Her only blemish was giving up a solo shot as a Wildcat got a hold of one of her pitches just right.
“Gracie Johnston was phenomenal…she went after kids. And defensively, you’ve got to be ready to make plays, and we made those plays behind her.”
Kourtney Divine gave the Orioles a spark with a solo shot to center field for a 1-0 lead in the opening inning. Divine has had a solid start to the season at the plate for the Orioles.
Mulvane got a double in the top of the second, but nothing more. Raine Harman reached on a fielder’s choice, then stole second. Haylee Hoefgen capitalized with an RBI single for a 2-0 Oriole lead.
Mulvane cut it to 2-1 in the fourth with its solo home run.
The Orioles blew it open in the bottom of the inning. Harman, Payne and Caitlyn Divine started the run with three singles to load the bases. Hinnenkamp came through with a two-RBI single. Sophie and Harman later drove in runs as part of a five-run inning. The Orioles led 7-1.
“Hitting is contagious,” Steinkamp said. “We had to get that confidence and we had some energy. Hitting brings energy.”
Payne drove in Kourtney on an RBI single in the sixth for extra insurance as the Orioles led 8-1, where the score remained.
In the opening game, Katie Payne hit an RBI single to score Madison Wheeler and get the Orioles on the board, down 2-1. The Orioles stranded two runners to end the inning, though.
In the fifth, Taylor Hinnenkamp beat out a throw to first for an infield single. She stole second, and Divine cashed in with an RBI single to tie the game 2-2.
Alison Macari threw one strikeout and got another 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, but the Orioles missed some chances to take the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Prior to that, Hinnenkamp caught two straight fly balls, one of which was on the run in shallow center, to get the Orioles out of a bases-loaded jam.
The Orioles return to action Wednesday on the road against Winfield for a rain makeup doubleheader. Check Thursday’s Times-Gazette for results from the Orioles’ road doubleheader at Wellington Monday, as well.