The Knox College Prairie Fire softball team dropped a pair of road games to open the 2013 campaign, 11-0 and 13-2 to Dominican University and Elmhurst College, respectively.
In the contest against Dominican, Knox failed to score a run and only recorded two hits while committing six errors.
“We had a lot of silly mistakes on the field that cost us a good amount of unnecessary runs,” junior pitcher Avecena Hollingsworth said. “[Last] weekend was the first time the whole team had really been together on the field with real situations. Not to mention it was the debut weekend for some of our girls.”
Junior Anna Lemen took the loss in the circle, giving up four earned runs and 10 hits while pitching. Freshman Karli Shields relieved Lemen but also gave up two earned runs.
“We kept a lot of that frustration on the field, and I think we never really fully recovered from it, which brought us down a lot,” Shields said
The nerves continued to plague the Fire as they lost 13-2 to Elmhurst College in their second game:
“I think we didn’t come out with as much energy as possible,” sophomore Claire Neri said. “That is, we weren’t really fired up until the second game, when we actually scored some runs.”
Neri and Shields combined to knock in Knox’s only runs of the weekend, Neri via an RBI single that scored junior Alyssa Bleidorn in the fourth while a Shields RBI brought in freshman Annie Ford in the fifth. Knox collected nine hits in the ball game but left a costly 10 runners on base compared to just two for the Bluejays.
The Prairie Fire were coming off a season in which they won four of their last five games en route to having the second highest win total in school history.
Head coach Ashley Sims, who is in her fourth year as head coach, leads a team that has seven returning players and six newcomers. Sims believes the Fire can improve from last season and has higher expectations moving forward.
“You always want to have a better season and make improvements from previous year. We want to continue to get better as a team and in the Midwest Conference,” Sims said.
“We want to make ourselves as sound as possible so that when it comes to the games, everything feels routine, whether it’s hitting or fielding,” Sims said. “We have to stay hungry and keep preparing ourselves and practicing good habits.”
With a 9-17 finish last season, the Fire have a foundation to build on as they look to become a better squad in 2012-2013.
“We have a good chance to make a name for ourselves this year,” junior pitcher Amber Eisha said. “It is definitely possible with the amount of talent we have and I can definitely see a difference from past seasons. There is not a doubt in my mind that we can be a force to be reckoned with in the conference this year and give teams a good run.”
Note: Claire Neri is the Circulation Manager at TKS.