Just when it looks like Free State High’s softball team is on the verge of reaching the .500 level …oops, there’s that hump again.
The Firebirds came within a game of evening their record with a 4-1 triumph over Shawnee Mission West on Friday afternoon at Youth Sports, Inc. fields.
But SM West turned the tables with a 4-1 victory in the nightcap.
“It’s just frustrating,” senior Rosie Hull said, “because it keeps happening, and we don’t know how to fix it.”
Free State managed only eight hits all day — four of them by Hull — against SM West right-hander Morgan Brunmeier, and all were singles.
Five hits in the first game, plus four Vikings’ errors, enabled the Firebirds to provide plenty of cushion for junior left-hander Megan Smith, who proved adept at wiggling out of jams.
Smith allowed seven hits and three walks, but the Vikings stranded nine runners. Smith pitched three more scoreless innings in the second game, then was pulled by coach Pam Pine.
“She was having some back problems,” Pine said of Smith, “and she was starting to walk people.”
With senior right-hander Sierra Dickson in the circle, the Vikes parlayed a couple of Free State errors and a pair of singles into two unearned runs. Then SM West added an earned run in the fifth and another in the sixth off Mary Ann Smith, a freshman right-hander just promoted from the junior varsity.
Meanwhile, the Firebirds settled for three hits off Brunmeier — two ground singles by Hull and a dunker into left field by Alison Ice.
Finally, in the sixth inning, Free State averted the shutout.
“We had seven flyouts going into the sixth,” Pine said, “so I told the girls to try to put the ball in play.”
Free State’s lone run came when Fox, who reached on an error, and Hull’s twin sister, Maggie, who was on base with a fielder’s choice, executed a double steal with runners on first and third.
Brunmeier settled down, however, and retired the last five Firebirds in order as the Vikings’ record climbed to 10-7.
Of the Firebirds’ eight hits in the twinbill, only two were collected by underclassmen.
“I think they rely too much on the seniors,” Pine said. “They need to realize that everybody needs to do a good job.”
The Firebirds will be idle until Thursday, when they’ll play host to Shawnee Mission North in their regular-season finales.