Howard College Head Softball Coach Kelly Raines knew going into Friday's series against conference rival Odessa College that the Hawks needed to win at least three of four games against the Wranglers to earn the top seed in regional play.
A two-game sweep at home would have given Raines' team a head start, but a rough inning by HC's ace, Sandra Serna, and a batting clinic staged by the Wranglers dashed that plan as the Hawks found themselves on the short end of a 10-1 ball game — a rarity for the 19-3 (41-14 overall) squad.
It only took one-half of the first inning for the Hawks to trail OC by seven. Serna gave up five earned runs before Raines replaced her with Megan Granado.
The only run recorded by HC came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Shelby Shelton — returning to the lineup for the first time since she broke her jaw in a practice before a game against Clarendon College — singled.
Granado followed with a single as well, and a balk charged to the Wranglers advanced the base runners to second and third.
Carlyn Teichmann stepped into the batters box and made contact but was thrown out at first base. It was enough to drive Ashley Hall, who was pinch running for Shelton, home to make it a 10-1 game.
The outing came to an early close due to the run-rule at the end of the fifth inning, as the Hawks just couldn't produce any offense.
In the second game, Serna was again given the nod as starting pitcher. This time around, it was business as usual for Serna, as she picked up the complete game victory and allowed just four runs from the stagnating Wranglers.
The offense picked up as well.
The Hawks batters put 12 runs on the board through five innings and ended the game early with a run-rule win of their own.
Raines took the loss with a grain of salt, knowing that every team has a bad outing once in a while, especially against a tough squad such as the Wranglers.
“It was just one of those days,” Raines said. “(Serna) was trying to over throw. We were trying to do too much. It's not that we weren't focused — we were so ready to play these games, we had too much built up.”
Raines said the key to overcoming the diappointing loss was a more laid-back approach to Game Two.
“I told them to relax,and just play our game,” Raines added. “Just play — don't overplay, and try to do the things we know we are capable of.”
Though the final standings won't be available until the last two games are played against OC, Raines is confident about regional play whether they take the series or not.
“I feel good about going into regionals,” Raines said. “The team is in a good place. I feel they are the best team . It will come down to who plays well next week.”