MILTON-FREEWATER - The Mac-Hi softball team came up just short here Thursday evening against the Yamhill-Carlton Tigers, losing 2-1 due to lack of timely hitting.
The Pioneers were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners stranded on base at a rainy, windy and cold Yantis Park.
Mac-Hi coach Nicole Christian said lack of confidence may have contributed to the void of clutch hitting.
"Hitting is 90 percent confidence and some of our hitters may have lacked that today," Christian said. "It could be because we were facing a tough pitcher and we didn't get to her immediately. We didn't hit like we did yesterday."
The Mac-Hi pitching combination of senior Kaitlin Erm, for three innings, and freshman lefty hurler Collette Robert in the final four frames, kept the Pioneers in the game throughout.
Erm gave up two runs on four hits and struck out five.
Robert started out dominating and finished the game unscathed. She struck out the first five Tigers she faced and struck out seven while giving up just two hits and no runs. Neither Mac-Hi pitcher walked a Tiger.
"Kaitlin did a good job and kept them off balance," Christian said. "Then, Collette comes into to shut them down. We got great pitching today and we have two other good pitchers we didn't even use today."
The Pioneer defense committed zero errors while making some outstanding plays that almost robbed Tiger hitters of key base knocks.
In the top of the third, Chelse Frank lined a clean single up the middle to lead off for the Tigers. The next Tiger batter struck out. Early in the count to the next hitter, Becca Christianson, Frank stole second.
Christianson hit a hard grounder just past the outreached, lunging Pioneer's shortstop Megan Reed for an RBI single into left field.
The RBI single by Christianson was followed by another Erm strikeout for two outs.
The Tigers' McKenzie Magnuson hit a long fly ball to left that landed in the glove of diving Mac-Hi outfielder Kariss Carillo just inside the foul line. The ball was jarred loose as Carillo hit the wet ground hard and it dropped for an RBI double.
A groundout to second ended the threat, but it was 2-0 Yamhill-Carlton.
The Pioneers answered with one run in the bottom of the third. Carrillo used her speed to reach on an error on the Tigers' pitcher on the swinging bunt. Brianna Crewse bunted Carrillo to second and a wild pitch advanced the runner to third.
Karli Cortez grounded out, but Carrillo was able to score on the throw from shortstop to get Cortez at first base.
The RBI groundout made it 2-1.
In the bottom of the sixth, Mac-Hi had runners on first and second with no outs, but suffered three straight strikeouts.
In the bottom of the seventh, Mac-Hi's Reed and Cheyenne Kessler started the inning with singles.
Again, three consecutive Pioneers struck out.
The Tigers' pitcher, Molly Smith, threw a complete-game seven-hitter and gave up an unearned run. In the process, Smith struck out 11 Pioneers.
"Smith really kicked it into gear with runners on and did really well at the end," Christian said. "She threw hard and put it where she needed to place it. We just couldn't make enough adjustments at the plate and get timely hitting today."
The Pioneers (3-3) are back in action today at their home tournament, playing at 2 p.m. against Sweet Home and at 6 p.m. versus Madras. Mac-Hi also plays at noon Saturday against Central before taking on Scappoose at 2 p.m.
Yamhill-Carlton 2, Mac-Hi 1
Yamhill-Carlton 002 000 0 - 2 4 1
Mac-Hi 001 000 0 - 1 7 0
Smith and Magnuson. Erm, Robert (4) and Kessler.
HR - none.
Hits - Y-C: Smith, Frank, Christianson, Magnuson. Mac: Cortez, Reed, Kessler 2, Odman, Robert, Woodall.