October 01, 2023

Seeing the ball helps O-M hitting through flurry of recent games

The Orient-Macksburg softball team won two games last week, showing coaches that the pieces of a successful season are coming together for them on the diamond.

The Bulldogs were 2-6 overall and 0-3 in the Bluegrass Conference coming into this week.

Head coach Mike Cooley said he’s definitely seen some positives out of his team early on.

“What I do see is that when we get down we don’t just roll over and play dead. We gave up eight runs in an inning against Lamoni, were down 13-5 in the fifth inning, then we held them and scored four runs in the sixth and four in the seventh to cut it to one,” Cooley said. “Also, we loaded the bases against Central Decatur with nobody out in the seventh inning [and weren’t able to capitalize]. As a rule we’ve been hitting the ball fairly well early on in the season.”

Cooley said good hitting, to him, comes down to seeing the ball.

“That’s the main thing. I’m trying to get them to hold their head still. When they don’t and they don’t see the ball, they don’t hit it,” he said.

The week started Wednesday, May 31, with a 10-4 win over East Union at home. The Bulldogs had a dozen hits in the game, led by three from Emma Boswell and two each from Kinsey Eslinger, Logann Carson and Emily Campbell.

O-M led 7-0 after the first two innings, the Eagles scored one in the third, and the hosts came back for two more in the home half of the third for a 9-1 lead, though they struggled to capitalize for much offense after that.

The Bulldogs committed seven errors, including several in one innings, during a 13-12 loss Thursday, June 1 at home against Lamoni. An eight-run sixth inning from the Demons proved catastrophic for O-M in a game that had otherwise been deadlocked at 5-5.

Through six games that stats are entered for online, Boswell leads Orient-Macksburg with a .611 batting average, including 11 hits, seven singles, two doubles and two triples, with seven RBI. Sophomore Carter Osborne is hitting .412 with seven hits, a double and six RBI. Cass and Carson are each right at .400 batting, Cass with eight hits, five singles and two doubles, a homer and six RBI and Carson with four hits, two singles, two doubles and four RBI.

Another effective piece that Orient-Macksburg has is three solid pitchers in Cass, Boswell or Eslinger. They each had two starts entering the week.

“For being the smallest school with a softball team, we have three gals that can throw strikes,” Cooley said. “That’s a good thing. I’m not scared to start all three of them. I don’t know that I’m using a true rotation yet this year. We’re still trying to shore up a few positions yet.”

Friday night, the Bulldogs sought revenge and got it, beating Lamoni 10-4 in the first round of the Murray tournament. They led 4-1 after the first inning and kept chipping away, with 13 hits, including a home run from Christa Cass, toward the win.

In the second tournament game in Murray, O-M lost 7-5 to Central Decatur, scoring all of its runs in the third or fifth inning. The Cardinals took an early 5-0 lead in the game but the Bulldogs weren’t able to regroup.

Murray beat Orient-Macksburg 10-2 in the Bulldogs’ final tournament game of the weekend.

This week for the Bulldogs started with a varsity doubleheader Monday at Melcher-Dallas. They then were scheduled to host Moravia Tuesday, travel to Mormon Trail Thursday and Moulton-Udell Friday.

“All in all, I’m happy with the way things have started. We’ve played the top part of the league so far. If we’re going to be in the top part of the league this week is pretty important to us because we’re going to be playing the rest of the teams who have a record that’s about like ours,” Cooley said. “We’re hoping to have a productive week, to shore things up and see where we fall at the end of the week conference-wise. Our goal’s to get better each game and the goal is to be playing well at the end of the season during tournaments.”

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.