In a long and difficult season, which, so far, has yet to produce many positives, the Stephens College softball team had to get creative to stay light and positive on the diamond.
On a cold, grey Sunday in Columbia, playing against a Missouri Valley College team that had already torched the Stars with two home runs as part of a 16-2 rout in the first game of a doubleheader, the Stars found a simple way to have fun.
“I’m going to start calling you Gerald if you keep doing that,” freshman third baseman Chayce Ayars said to senior pitcher Gerica Curry after she delivered consecutive strikes in the fifth inning.
It had already been a long inning for the Stars, as the Vikings (8-10) blasted their third home run of the day and posted six runs in the frame. Ayars attempted to keep Curry from getting too down on herself and continued to have some nonsensical fun with her teammate by calling her “Gerald.”
Soon, freshman shortstop Abby Sesti double-teamed Curry with “Gerald” references. Curry smiled despite the lopsided score.
“They just try to find something that gets them going and then all of a sudden they can have a good play and get them rolling,” Stars coach Tom Fickett said of his team’s attempts to stay upbeat on the field.
Unfortunately for Stephens (0-16), the quality of play didn’t come. Missouri Valley College finished off the game with an 11-run fifth. Curry allowed 18 hits and while her teammates tried to support her with jokes, they were unable to step up defensively. Balls rolls under their gloves into the outfield and a dropped third strike later led to a another run.
Stephens’ offense, meanwhile, didn’t relieve any of the pressure on its two pitchers, Curry and sophomore Jamie Wittmer. The Stars combined for just eight hits and two runs in both games.
“Did it go the way we want? No, but you can see that there’s improvement. I mean, we had a kid that almost had her first hit ever and that was exciting to end on. It’s one of those where it was like, okay, yeah, this is good,” Fickett said.
Fickett was alluding to freshman outfielder Morgan Puckett, whose slap bunt almost went for an infield single. Before making contact against the Vikings, Puckett hadn’t put the ball in play all season.
Stephens College will try to pick up its first win on the season against Missouri Baptist University as part of a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Columbia.