Lady Lions fall to Panthers in 8 in chilly home opener

BREMEN — The Lady Lions started their home schedule strong but couldn’t hold on as Washington chipped away at a six-run deficit to eventually overcome its host 10-7 in eight cold, windy innings at Bremen Thursday.
“I think we started off good, jumped out quick and early and got off to a fast start, but I think after that we relaxed a little bit,” said Bremen head softball coach Josh Walter. “I don’t know if it’s spring break break coming up or the weather or what it was, thinking about other things. I thought we were in good shape early… and made mistakes at the end.”
“This happened to us yesterday, too. We got down early, but they battled back,” said Washington coach Chris Berg. “They’ve shown a lot of character both days. They don’t give up.”
Bremen jumped off to a 6-0 lead in the first as the Lions followed a scoreless top half of the inning with four hits for six runs.
Megan Strouder led off the bottom of the frame with a walk, and lone Bremen senior Sam Schultz advanced her to third following a sacrifice bunt by Bethany Grove moved Strouder to second, setting the table for an RBI single by catcher Brooke Baker.
Taylor Lashbrook loaded the bases by beating out the throw to first on a grounder to short, and junior second baseman Kailee Feldman ripped a base-clearing three-run triple to deep center to put Bremen up 4-0.
Allison Shorter drove Feldman home on a line single down the right field line and scored on a throwing error to first on a blooper from Lions pitcher Saylor Bailey before Bailey was caught trying to take third on the overthrow from home plate for the final out of the inning.
Panthers starting pitcher Sam Rios was warned about an illegal wind-up prior to the game by the home plate umpire, and the adjustment may have contributed to her bumpy start, but reliever Emily Plencner grabbed the win inside the circle, taking over for her in the third and scattering four hits for one run in six innings.
“(Rios) was hot last night, and I think Emily was just hot today,” said Walter. “It may have gotten to her a little bit; minor changes like that do kind of mess with you a little bit.”
“I think we beat up their starter, and I think we had a tough time adjusting to their speed change,” said Walter. “Between that and the fact that I don’t think we were as focused, things just kind of caught up with us at the plate.”
Washington settled in in the second as Vanessa Olivarez put the visitors on the board with a single to right and Tabby Hook scored her with an RBI shot to center-right.
The Panthers tacked on two more runs off three more hits the third and fourth to cut Bremen’s initial lead in half, to 6-3, then grabbed a 7-6 lead on a four-run, three-hit fifth that featured three errors by the Bremen infield.
After the Lions tied it up with an RBI double from Strouder in the sixth, both teams remained locked in a 7-7 tie until Washington broke through with a two-run double from cleanup hitter Sara Quickstod, followed by an RBI single from Maddy Orvis in the eight. The Lions went three up, three down in the bottom of the extra inning to close the home opener with a 10-7 loss.
Of Washington’s 10 runs, only one was earned as the young Lions accumulated nine errors, falling to 0-2 in their second game of the year.
“We’re young; we only have one senior,” said Walter. “We only have one senior and a couple juniors, and we’re a team that’s got to learn how to win a little bit. That’s part of the game, experiences like this. We did good, we took the lead, we fought back and tied it up, but we just couldn’t keep it going.”
BREMEN 7 (8 innings)
At Bremen
Bremen:      600  001  00 — 7 9 3
Washington:  011  140  03 — 10 11 0
Sam Rios, Emily Plencner (W, 1-0) and Tabby Hook (W, 1-0), Saylor Bailey (L, 0-2) and Brooke Baker
2B: Bailey (B), M. Stouder (B), Hook (W), S. Quickstod (W)
3B: K. Feldman (B)
Records: Bremen 0-2, Washington 1-1