Softball drops two games to Chatham under the stars

The softball team hit the road for a pair of games Tuesday evening losing both to the fifth-place team in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, the Chatham Cougars.

The Jackets (6-18 overall, 2-6 PAC) fell in the first game, 3-1, in part to the Cougars [9-13, 3-3] jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Head coach Brett Shimek said senior Courtney Messenger pitched well, but the Jackets offense just couldn’t get the ball in play as much as it needed to.

“I thought the first game was competitive, we were in it until the end,” said Shimek. “We started out a little slow in the first inning and got to the middle of our order and got at least a hit, but just a slow start.”

Waynesburg finally answered with a run of its own in the in the fourth inning when junior Taylor Staley scored on a wild pitch, after leading off the inning with a double. Staley’s run, however, would be the only one scored for the Jackets in the first half of the doubleheader.

The Jackets out-hit the Cougars, 8-7, and Shimek said his team was able to put the ball in play throughout the first game but ran into some tough defensively stops by Chatham.

“We hit the ball hard and had a couple bad breaks,” said Shimek. “Line drive double plays, a few feet one way or another and we’re leading by a couple runs. Just some bad breaks.”

Messenger took the loss for the Jackets, pitching seven innings and posting four strikeouts and zero walks. The loss dropped Messenger to a 4-11 record on the season, while Chatham sophomore Julie Swedberg picked up her sixth win of the season in the circle.

The second half of the doubleheader started the same as the first with Chatham boasting a 4-1 lead after the first inning. Sophomore Emma Kubalak took the circle in this one for the Jackets. Shimek said despite the Cougars hitting well against Kubalak, he still has confidence in both of his pitchers.

“Emma did good, we need to play a little better defense behind her,” said Shimek. “Chatham had some nice hits there as well, but Emma’s coming on and I feel confident in her.”

The Cougars busted it open adding two runs in the fifth and sixth to bring the lead to 9-2. Waynesburg committed five errors in the game and allowed 15 Chatham hits. According to Shimek, the defensive efforts are something that the Jackets will be sure to work on heading into the weekend.

“As a coaching staff we preach pitching and defense and when you’re giving up five or six outs in an inning you give them many more opportunities to tack on hits and it was certainly a little of that tonight,” said Shimek.

Messenger came in to relieve Kubalak in the fifth, but it was Kubalak who suffered the loss, dropping her twelfth game of the season. Chatham’s junior pitcher Madison Howell earned the win in game two and the Cougars held on for the 9-2 victory in the doubleheader finale.

“After our second game, we’ve got to get back to basics is what I told them and we have to work harder and get better,” said Shimek. “I confident we’ll be prepared, and we’ll make a run back into the conference this weekend. Today was a rough game, but we’ve got to get back on the horse and ride it.”

The Jackets will look to bounce back when they play four games in two days this weekend starting Friday at 3:30 p.m. with a doubleheader at home against Geneva.