After extending its win streak to four early last week, Northwest softball dropped four straight to Nebraska-Kearney and Fort Hays State over the weekend road trip April 6-7.
The Bearcats (9-18, 4-10 MIAA) dropped two to the Lopers (12-18, 8-8 MIAA) in Kearney, Nebraska, April 6, 7-6 and 4-3. In Game 1, Northwest put together a five-run sixth inning to bring itself within one run going into the final frame of the game, but Nebraska-Kearney was able to keep the Bearcats from tying it up.
Senior infielder Kiana Baderdeen was 1-for-3 with an RBI in the first game against Nebraska-Kearney. Baderdeen explained the big inning in the sixth helped the team take a positive attitude into Game 2.
“The mood was definitely more positive because those games were so close,” Baderdeen said. “It was still heartbreaking that we weren’t able to (win), but after that sixth inning when we did have that rally, we were like ‘We can do it when we are down that much.’”
Game 2 against the Lopers featured a back and forth affair as Northwest captured an early fourth-inning lead only to surrender it in the home half of the same inning. The ‘Cats would knot the score up in the fifth only to follow the same trend and give the lead right back in the bottom half.
Coach Ryan Anderson said he noticed the approach for his hitters change for the worse after the homestand.
“Offensively, we’re playing from behind a lot right now,” Anderson said. “Our hitters are trying to have good at-bats, and they’re trying to fight, but our approach is different compared to Lincoln and Lindenwood. When we had those big leads, we just went up there swinging. We’re so worried about the out that our at-bats have changed.”
The next day, Northwest headed 145-miles south to take on Fort Hays State (16-15, 9-7 MIAA) in a two-game set. Game 1 and 2 provided much of the same as the ‘Cats hopped out to identical first inning leads but gave them up rather quickly. Northwest dropped both games to the Tigers 14-6 and 8-6.
“They definitely had some big hitters,” Baderdeen said. “Even their hitters who were off had those bloop hits that were able to find their way in. It was just very unstoppable at that point.”
With the season rapidly coming to a close, Anderson explained how the inconsistent weather and cancellations have hindered the growth of his team.
“We just can’t put things together,” Anderson said, frustrated. “We have 27 games in right now, and I think we should have 43 or 45 games. … In 27 games you're supposed to be ready for your conference season, by numbers we should just be starting our conference season.”
Northwest now hones in on a weekend set against Pittsburg State (18-21, 6-8 MIAA) and Missouri Southern (17-18, 8-10 MIAA) in its final road trip of the year.
In recent matchups with Nebraska-Kearney and Fort Hays State, Pitt State was able to sweep the Lopers and drop three of four to the Tigers. The Lions were swept by Fort Hays in their matchup and split a pair of games against Nebraska-Kearney.
“It’s teams we have to play like we know how,” Anderson said. “It's so easy for us right now to have that excuse (of canceled games) or something didn’t go right; well, a lot of the season hasn’t gone right. We’ve had two bus breakdowns over the whole season too. Nothing has gone right. Us traveling places isn’t going right, so we’re going to have to be the ones to right the ship.”
With 12 games remaining on the schedule and the ‘Cats still trying to find their groove, Anderson said his team has to play like its season depends on it.
“We’ve got to continue to fight,” Anderson said. “Going into Pitt and Southern, I don’t know where they’re sitting right now, and that really doesn’t matter. We just need to go play.”