Albany State team members congratulate Kayla Alexander (middle) after her solo homer in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
ALBANY – Robert Skinner walked slowly to right field to meet with his Albany State women’s softball team after a pair of losses to nationally-ranked Columbus State on Tuesday.
While Skinner was disappointed, he couldn’t stay too upset with his team. They lost the first game 14-2, but had their chances in a 5-0 loss in Game 2.
“Anytime you play a program like Columbus State, you’re preparing your team for what the season is going to be like in April,” said Skinner, referring to a back-loaded schedule and the conference tournament.
“And then you’re letting the kids know that if you get past April, this is what May is going to look like. You’ve got to continue preparing yourself.”
While it wasn’t the results he would have liked to have, Tuesday’s losses were part of the growing process for a young Albany State team.
They managed just two runs on two hits in Game 1 – a pair of solo homers from Domonique Bryant and Kayla Alexander – while Columbus State erupted for 14 runs on 14 hits.
But things were different in the second game. Ace pitcher Alexa Lopez took the hill and kept the Lady Rams (0-8) in the game. With the exception of the sixth inning, ASU left runners on base in every inning. Twice, CSU pitcher Kristen Carr recorded strikeouts to get out of the inning.
Then in the third after Bryant reached on an error to start the inning and Malea Maye reached on an infield bunt single, Carr got a pop fly for the first out, then induced a double-play to cut down the scoring threat.
But ASU’s best chance to score came in the fifth. Alexander singled to lead off the inning and advanced to second on Candace Blair’s sacrifice bunt. With Alexander in scoring position at second, Bryant sent a line drive to Carr, which she snagged for the second out.
Maye then singled up the middle for what appeared to potentially be the Lady Rams’ first run of the game. However, CSU centerfielder Morgan Knight threw Alexander out at the plate to preserve the shutout.
Lopez went the distance, allowing five runs on 11 hits in the setback.
The junior was disappointed that she didn’t get more offensive support, however, she believes it’s a matter of time before the offense breaks loose.
“We come out here and work hard everyday,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of freshmen and once they get going and get some confidence, I believe the hitting will come around.”
Skinner was more disappointed with the lack of support Lopez received.
“We didn’t provide her with any run support at all,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job than what we’re doing. We certainly didn’t cash in on our opportunities.”
The Lady Rams (0-8) open conference play today, playing host to Fort Valley State in a pair of games that start at 1 p.m. Skinner said expects a different team than the one he saw on Tuesday.