When Kayley Lane talks, Free State High's softball players listen.
Lane gave her teammates a pep talk following a desultory 9-5 loss to Shawnee Mission North, and Free State responded with a 9-1 victory to divide a twinbill Tuesday at the FSHS diamond.
"We came out dead in the first game," said Lane, one of only two seniors on the roster. "We didn't bring our A-game. We took them lightly."
Consequently, Lane gave the other Firebirds the old what-for.
"I told them we have a reputation for playing good softball at Free State," Lane said. "I just said we need to get it together."
Lane had it together in both games.
In the opener, the Firebirds' shortstop and clean-up hitter went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. She was even better in the nightcap, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs.
On the windy afternoon, Lane was 5-for-8 with three doubles and six RBIs.
"She has good pitch selection," Free State coach Pam Pine said about the centerpiece of her batting order. "She always hits the ball hard somewhere."
Right-hander Catherine Smith, the only other senior on the roster, wasn't sharp in the opener, allowing 10 hits, but she also was victimized by a couple of errors and more than one mental miscue.
"We didn't back her in the field," Pine said about Smith, "and I think that bothered her."
Smith's younger sister Megan was the beneficiary of much better defense in the second game. The Firebirds were errorless and made several slick defensive plays, notably a diving catch in center field by Kelsey Leinmiller-Rennick in the fifth inning.
Megan Smith, a sophomore left-hander, scattered seven hits. The Indians' only run crossed in the sixth inning on a wild pitch.
"She was hitting her spots, and we didn't make any errors behind her," Pine said. "In the first game, we couldn't do anything right."
Pine, of course, didn't let Lane do all the talking between games. She raised her voice a couple of decibels, too.
"I haven't quite figured out the chemistry of this team," the Firebirds' coach said. "We've got a couple of older players and some young ones, and a few in between."
Two freshmen are starting - second baseman Ali Ice and right fielder Paige Rothwell.
Free State pounded 13 hits - seven for extra bases - in the second game off SM North's MoNica Lee, who entered with a 2-0 record and an 0.00 earned-run average.
Leinmiller-Rennick had a triple, and catcher Lauren Fox blasted a solo home run over the right centerfield fence in the sixth.
Free State, 3-4, will travel to Olathe East today to make up the second game of a doubleheader that was rained out last week. Perennial power O-East won the first game, 10-0.
"We'll have to bring our A-plus game tomorrow," Lane said.