WALWORTH — Big Foot’s girls softball team has had trouble at the plate throughout the year, scoring very few runs in many of their games.
Head coach Troy Hummel’s proposed fix was simple: You’ve got to swing more to hit more.
“We really have been talking about getting the bat on the ball and moving runners. We’ve had a lot of struggles at the plate this year; it’s well-documented that we’re looking at a lot of third strikes. And we’ve got to go up there swinging,” Hummel said.
While the more aggressive approach did not pay off on the scoreboard May 9 in a 9-2 loss to Evansville, the team’s mental shift was evident on the field.
After the Blue Devils scored two runs in the first inning, the Chiefs had a hole to climb out of in their first at-bats.
Freshman lead-off hitter Riley Summers smacked a long foul ball that easily would have been a home run if it were fair. Senior Lynda Santiago followed that up with a home run over the fence a couple of batters later to make it 2-1. Sophomore Hanah Nordmeyer hit a ball to the outfield wall that ended up as a double.
While the Chiefs only got one run out of the inning, the trio of hard hits proved that the team had taken their coach’s message to heart.
“Tonight, at least, it was a positive that we put the ball in play. We had some productive at-bats — it just didn’t pay off. At least we know that we’re getting up there more confident to hit the ball,” Hummel said.
Evansville scored one more run in the second inning to go ahead 3-1, but most of the Blue Devils’ damage was done in the third inning, when they scored four runs to go up 7-1.
As has been the case throughout the season, a combination of walks, errors and hits put the Chiefs into a hole. Big Foot was able to slightly reduce the deficit in the bottom of the third, with Summers scoring when Evansville’s catcher overthrew the pitcher on a routine toss back.
That 7-2 score held for three scoreless innings, but the Blue Devils scored two more runs in the top of the seventh to finish the game off at 9-2.
While the season has been challenging, with a 2-18 record after the Evansville loss, it has not been all bad for the Chiefs.
For starters, the roster is overwhelmingly made up of freshmen and sophomores, who have grown tremendously throughout the season and should be able to use this year’s struggles to drive them forward next year.
“I think that young class, that freshman class, will take this as a learning experience to improve and turn those losses into wins,” Hummel said.
Besides that, the team has seen star performances from its top players. Summers and Santiago have been battling for the team lead in batting average throughout the season, with Summers currently hitting .400 and Santiago sitting at .389.
Big Foot also had three more games in a busy week full of weather makeups.
First was a May 7 trip to McFarland, where the hometown Spartans topped Big Foot 10-0.
Three runs in the first and two in the second gave McFarland a sizable 5-0 lead, only to expand it with four runs in the fourth inning before closing it out with one run in the sixth.
The Chiefs were in a closer came May 11 against Parkview, falling 3-0.
All three of Parkview’s runs came in the fourth inning.
Junior Riley Alness pitched well in the game, only allowing two runs in six innings, but Big Foot could not muster up enough run support to pick up a win.
Big Foot’s final game in the week came May 13 against perennial powerhouse Beloit Turner. The Trojans had a strong day at the plate, winning 16-2.
Summers provided all of the Chiefs’ offense, hitting a pair of balls over the fence for solo home runs in the first and third innings.