Comets unable to weather Storm in softball season-opener

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Cottey Comets freshman Madison Hedges connects on a pitch during the Comets season-opener against Southeastern Community College (Neb.) Saturday in Nevada. (Photo by Matthew Resnick/Daily Mail)

NEVADA ---- The Cottey Comets opened its softball season Saturday afternoon at Vanek Family Field, dropping both games of a doubleheader to the Southeast Community College (Neb.) Storm, by scores of 10-2 in six innings and 17-1 in five innings.

In the first game Southeast jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead. When the Comets came to the plate in the bottom of the first inning, Nevada High School product Madison Hedges scored from third base via an infield error, trimming the Storm lead to 3-1. The Comets came up empty with the bases loaded and just one out, as sophomore Katherine Brockus struck out, followed by a Karliegh Conner inning-ending fly out to left field.

In the top of the second, Conner, a 2015 Northeast Vernon County High School graduate, cruised through the inning with strike outs of Storm starting pitcher Ellie Edmond and Morgan Houseman. To end the inning, Conner flashed some leather, snagging a rocket hit right back at her.

For Southeast, Edmond sailed through the bottom of the second inning striking out the side. The Storm tacked on a run in the top of the third courtesy of a Brooke Brestel RBI-triple to deep-center field. Brestel's base knock gave Southeast a 4-1 lead.

Leading off the bottom of the third, Hedges tagged an Edmond pitch to the left field wall, coasting into second base with a stand-up double. Next in the order, freshman Jessica Manderino of Shawnee Heights High School (Kan.) drew a base on balls to put runners on first and second with no outs. Edmond's third-inning woes continued when freshman DeLaina Finley laced a single into center field to load the bases.

Freshman Breanna Kelley struck out for the innings first out. Brockus followed with a grounder to shortstop that scored Hedges and cut the Storm lead to 4-2. After a Conner infield fly out (infield fly rule was called), the inning came to a close when freshman Anjolene Bozeman struck out swinging.

Conner made quick work of the Storm in the top of the fourth inning, thanks in-part to a slick inning-ending double play, as Kelley, a Monett High School grad, gloved a liner headed for the right-center field gap, and then threw to Hedges at first base to double-off a Southeast runner.

The Storm bats began to heat up in the top of the fifth inning as Savannah Grabowski led things off with a single, followed by a stolen base. Freshman outfielder Shelby Weitz then stepped to the plate, dropping a single into right-center field, scoring Grabowsi from second, as Southeast went on top 5-2. Brestel followed in the order, lifting a 2-run homer over the right center-field wall to put the Storm up 7-2.

The Comets threatened in the bottom of the fifth, as both Manderino and Finley smashed Edmond pitches to the outfield wall. With one out and the bases loaded, Kelley struck out followed by a Brockus ground out to first base, as Edmond escaped the inning unscathed.

In the top of the sixth, Brestel continued to do damage at the plate, adding two RBIs to her totals, as the Storm plated three runners in the inning to take a commanding 10-2 lead. Edmond returned for the bottom of the sixth inning, earning the complete-game victory.

Up next

The Comets (0-2 overall) host Allen County Community College (Kan.) Tuesday at 2 p.m.

2016 schedule

(Home games in bold)

---- March ----

4: Fort Scott Community College (Kan.), 1 p.m.

16: Kansas City Kansas Community College, TBA

18: East Central Community College, 2 p.m.

19: St. Louis Community College, 1 p.m.

20: Mineral Area Community College, 1 p.m.

25: ast Central Community College, 11 a.m.

---- April ----

2: St. Charles Community College, 1 p.m.

4: North Arkansas Community College, noon

7: North Arkansas Community College, noon

11: North Arkansas Community College, noon

14: Mineral Area Community College, 2 p.m.

19: North Arkansas Community College, noon

23: Kansas City Community College, noon

26: Allen County Community College, 2 p.m.

May 6-8: NJCAA Division II Regional Tournament, Union, Mo., times TBA. (May 8 is a rain date).

2016 Comets roster

(Source: Cottey media guide)

* Kaitly Hill, So., OF; Lake City, Fla.

* Shelby Weitz, Fr., OF; Kailua, Hawaii

* Shayna Spaulding, Fr., pitcher/utility; Baxter Springs, Kan.

* Madison Hedges, Fr., pitcher/first base; Nevada, Mo.

* Jessica Manderino, Fr., catcher; Topeka, Kan.

* Anjolene Bozeman, Fr., OF; Phoenix, Ariz.

* Katherine Brockus, So., shortstop; Osceola; Mo.

* Mary Atherton, Fr., pitcher/infielder; Bartlesville; Okla.

* Karliegh Conner, Fr., pitcher/infielder; Walker, Mo.

* Breanna Kelley, Fr., infielder; Monett, Mo.

* DeLaina Finley, Fr., catcher; Greenwood, Mo.

* Amber Harper, So., OF; McComb, Miss.

* Stephanie Beason, first season as head coach, replaces Shelli Stanley who spent five seasons at Cottey.

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