(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Not even the first career home run off the bat of Nicki James would be enough to rally the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs past the visiting Cape Central Lady Tigers on Tuesday afternoon as Sikeston lost yet another close contest, 4-3.
Recently, the Lady Bulldogs have fell into a habit of having to fight their way back into games after giving up runs in the early innings. Cape Central's Lexi Smith kept the Lady Bulldogs in that cycle by driving in the game's first run in the first inning with two outs already recorded.
"It seems like our hitting is coming too late in the game," Sikeston head coach Tiffany Morgan said. "I think we may be a little too impatient at the plate in the beginning and then finally come around."
James' solo shot tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning. It came right after the Lady Tigers completed a double play as Sarah Hopson was caught off second base after Elizabeth Bolen sent a laser to centerfield that ended up being caught.
"I was just thinking base hit," James about her first career home run.
A half inning later, Cape Central went up by two runs after a 2 RBI single. Sikeston, however, got one of those runs back after capitalizing on their second bases loaded opportunity when Annie Ramey drew an RBI walk to make it 3-2 Cape Central in the bottom of the sixth.
The Lady Tigers came right back though with the eventual deciding run when Lexi Smith connected on her fourth hit of the day to drive in Kadie Orenstein, who had three hits herself.
A sacrifice fly from Sarah Dixon would pull the Lady Bulldogs within one run again in their last gasp effort in the seventh, but it wouldn't be enough as Hopson was called out on a bang-bang play trying to beat the throw at first to end the game and give the Lady Bulldogs their third straight loss.
"We've been getting down early in our last few games and haven't been able to pull it out," said James. "We just have to start getting hits when we need them."
James, Hopson and Madison Chaney all had two hits for Sikeston. Bolen added one more to give the Lady Bulldogs a total of seven. They stranded eight base runners on the day.
"We'll get on base but we're lacking that one big hit," said Morgan. "Hopefully we can turn this around and starting pulling these close one's out."
Hopson took the loss while starting for Sikeston. She went 6 1/3 innings giving up all four runs on 10 hits until she was lifted in favor of Sydney Davied who recorded the last two outs of the top of the seventh inning.
"I think we need to get all of our players back to being focused and that starts at the top," Morgan said. "It's important for our older players to be the leaders out here."
Sikeston (4-4) will have a chance to get off the snide as they travel to Kelly today at 4 p.m. to take on the Lady Hawks.
Cape Central 100 020 1 -- 4
Sikeston 000 101 1 -- 3
WP -- Kadie Orenstein. LP -- Sarah Hopson. Multiple hitters -- (C) Orenstein 3-4, Lexi Smith 4-4, Chelsea Sterling 2-3; (S) Madison Chaney 2-4, Hopson 2-4, Nicki James 2-2. 2B -- (C) Smith. 3B -- (C) Orenstein. HR -- (S) James.