CLINTON – As the River Queens exited the field on Thursday night, there were some hanging heads.
And that’s exactly what head softball coach Nate Herrig addressed after the Clinton was swept for the second time this week, this time by No. 1 ranked Davenport Assumption.
“The biggest thing is that they have to believe that they can play the game better than they can play the game,” Herrig said. “They have to convince themselves that they can do this when sometimes the don’t think they can. It’s almost a mind over matter thing.”
The River Queens were downed by their top-Mississippi Athletic Conference opponent 12-2 and 15-0. They had a tough start to their MAC schedule, facing Class 4A No. 2 ranked Eldridge on Monday followed by the Class 3A No. 1 Knights Thursday night.
“Our goal was to compete and get better,” Herrig said. “And to string some innings together – we did that at times. Mentally, we showed our age a little bit but that’s to be expected.”
Things started shaky from the get-go. An Assumption bunt landed, but a miscommunication caused the Queens to miss the tag at home, missing the out and plating the first run of the game. The next batter crushed a ball to the center field fence, driving in two more runs. Another line drive scored the fourth run of the innings.
“That’s just part of it,” Herrig said. “We were in the spots, we just didn’t execute.
“You don’t want to make mistakes that give up runs by any means. We talk about it, we go through situations in practice, we just have to keep working at it and moving forward.”
The first four innings all featured more Assumption runs, scoring six unanswered before the first River Queen score.
That came in the third inning. Makenzie Cooley came up to the plate and bounced a single through the infield. From there, Amber Lee laid down a good bunt that moved Cooley to second base.
Casy Mandrell looped a hit into left field to score the first, an then Lauren Brennan picked up her own RBI single. That cut the lead to 6-2.
Still, the River Queens left five on base throughout the first contest.
The Knights had little problems hitting off of Lauren Brennan. Brennan was throwing strikes, but the Knights offensive prowess showed.
Game 2 didn’t start much better for Clinton. The Knights came out swinging, hitting ball after ball off of pitcher Natalie Dornbush. The Clinton pitching staff are having the same problems many teams are: pitchers haven’t seen competition in months and they’re struggling to go multiple innings.
“COVID hurt everybody,” Herrig said. “The work that we’re getting out of them, it’s hard because we’re trying to balance time in the bullpen and on the field and with the bat. It’s going to take some time. The way everything has gone is we were thrown right into conference and we didn’t have time to get things cleaned up.”
The Knights ended with 17 hits in the Game 2 off of the combined efforts of Dornbush and Amber Lee.
Meanwhile, the River Queens only managed two hits.
The River Queens are facing their first non-ranked competition on Friday night with a single varsity game against non-conference Calamus-Wheatland.
“We’ve got to keep this thing moving in the right direction,” Herrig said. “We’ve started to string some innings together against really tough competition. Now we have to make sure that we continue to do that against other teams. If we’re going to get one, we have to try to get one while we can.”