Free State High's softball team may not be winning, but coach Pam Pine isn't ready to give up.
"Like I told the girls, our intensity was up today," Pine said after tradition-rich Olathe East handed the Firebirds 7-0 and 14-1 losses Tuesday at the FSHS field. "But when we make errors, we make errors that really hurt us."
In the first game, the Firebirds (2-8) made a crucial error in the fifth inning when Olathe East had two outs and two runners on base. The Hawks wound up with four runs, then added three more in the next frame.
"With errors, that usually occurs -- the bottom falls out of our ship," Pine said. "We're not good enough to make errors and still win."
Free State made seven errors in the doubleheader.
The Hawks bolted to a 5-0 lead after an inning of the nightcap. The Firebirds' lone run of the day came in the third inning when Emily Leiker doubled down the left-field line and circled the bases when the left fielder threw the ball away.
Olathe East, 13-1 and a perennial state contender, invoked the 10-run rule by adding three runs in the fifth inning and six in the sixth.
"The girls are focused after last year," Hawks' coach Jeff Hulse said. "We lost a regional final for the first time in seven years, and we have a burr under our saddle."
Pine certainly won't be surprised if the Hawks wind up at the Class 6A state tournament and win the championship.
"They hit the ball better than anybody we've played so far in terms of their whole lineup," Pine said. "They have good pitchers, they're well coached, and they hustle."
The Firebirds may have been a little bit down mentally Tuesday after dropping a pair of one-run decisions Monday to Shawnee Mission West.
"We're a little worn out after two losses in the bottom of the seventh," Pine said. "I was proud of us coming out to play today. I thought we would be a little flat. Mentally, we're a little tired."
Still, Pine was optimistic.
"At times we look great," Pine said. "We've got some young kids, and they put too much pressure on themselves. When they relax things will be better later on."
Free State will play another doubleheader Thursday at Shawnee Mission South.