ROACHDALE -- Facing a team to which they had lost, 6-0, on Monday, and which had yet to allow a run on the season, North Putnam softball had a tall order in going against Speedway Tuesday. The Cougars efforts brought them much closer, but the game still ended in a 3-1 loss.
"We just didn't play well enough to win," said coach George Pearson.
North was able to start the game well, though. After two scoreless innings from the Sparkplugs, Dakota Malayer led off the second with a double. She then advanced to third when Speedway mishandled the throw from center field. Brittney Hall then came in as a courtesy runner for Malayer. Leah Crosby's sacrifice fly to center then brought home Hall for the game's first run.
A single from Ashley Doyle and two more Speedway errors kept the Cougar threat alive, but no more runners crossed the plate. Two runners were stranded.
Those potential runs began to loom large as Speedway pitcher Kristi Roth began to settle in. Roth retired 11 straight batters from the second through fifth innings. She finished the evening with five strikeouts and only three hits allowed.
Pearson felt his team played too much into the opposition's hand.
"We've got to start hitting the ball better. We're hitting pitcher's pitches instead of hitter's pitches," he said.
For their part, the Sparkplugs were able to take advantage of breaks a little better than the Cougars. After North's second-inning score, they came right back with Courtney Walton's solo home run.
"Both teams put the ball in play and made people work," said Speedway coach Derek Doehrmann.
"We got one more break than they did, and that was the difference."
The break came in the sixth when leadoff hitter Brandy Roth reached on an error. She then advanced to second on a passed ball. Three batters later, Erin Heller's single drove Roth home. Kristi Roth followed with an RBI triple.
The "breaks," in the form of Cougar errors, weighed heavily on Pearson's mind after the game.
"Speedway's a good club. you can't make mistakes against them, and that's what happened," said Pearson.
"Until we straighten out that, we're not going to be the ball club we can be."
Brook Miller pitched seven innings with nine hits and six strikeouts on her way to the loss.
"Brook pitched a good ball game tonight, but you can't make the kind of mistakes we did against a good team," Pearson said.
It wasn't all negative for the Cougars, though. While they did make some mistakes, they were facing a good team across the field. Doehrmann's comments put the North loss in perspective.
"North Putnam has a very solid team. They have girls who can put the bat on the ball. they put some pressure on us tonight," he said.
"They're going to beat most of the people they play."
The Cougars return to action when they host Greencastle at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
At North Putnam
Speedway 001 002 0 -- 3 9 4
NPHS 010 000 0 -- 1 3 4
W -- K. Roth
L -- Miller
2B -- Emerson (SHS), Malayer (NP)
3B -- K. Roth (SHS)
HR -- Walton (SHS)
Next game -- The Cougars host Greencastle at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.