Apr 202010
Authors: Stephen Meyers

This time, the “Comeback Kids” put themselves in a hole too big to climb out of.

Down 5-0 after the first inning, the CSU softball team never recovered and lost 7-3 to the University of Northern Colorado, splitting the season series 2-2.

Caitlan Stem hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to cut UNC’s lead to four, but the rally ended there.

It would have been quite the comeback because the Rams’ problems began in the first.

Pitcher Dani Chaplin, starting for the first time since March 14, gave up five runs in the first inning and was pulled after facing only six batters.

UNC’s Melisa Ryba hit a two-run double and Erin Wilkinson, Megan Hamilton and Jamie Juelfs each added RBI singles.

“Dani got in a lot of trouble. She just couldn’t get it done in the circle. That happens. That was a tough first inning. You already put yourself in such a hole,” said head coach Mary Yori.

CSU used three more pitchers to finish the game.

Kelsey Jo O’Brien, Rebecca Penland and Kelli Eubanks combined to allow eight hits and three runs.

Penland, a senior, came in with the team down 6-0.

“I love coming in in relief (situations). I love the stressful situation. I love to come in and know that I can help my team stop the bleeding,” said Penland, who allowed one run.

The Rams had their own chances in the first inning. Caitlan Stem singled and Christine Thomsen scorched a ball, but right to second base for the out and Stem was caught at first on a base-running error.

“We had a chance to get a couple there early, but nothing happened. And then nothing happens again, and you run yourself out of the inning,” Yori said. “As a team we did not play sharp. We just didn’t put a good game together, plain and simple.”

The Rams had eight hits, but left eight on base.

“It’s just disappointing. Being down by five right away just got to us. We just never recovered from it, and that was the issue,” Stem said.

But the team didn’t lose its enthusiasm.

Calling themselves the “Comeback Kids” and “Cardiac Kids,” Stem and Penland both said the team believed it could come back.

“We’re the Cardiac Kids. That’s what we’ve called ourselves all year, and we totally thought we could come back from this. The first inning just took out our spark,” Stem said.

The Rams rallied from behind on three occasions this season including a five-run ninth inning against Cal State Fullerton Feb. 28.

“We did our best today, but it wasn’t good enough,” Stem said.

“They’re feisty. They don’t quit. That’s how it is when you play softball. When you see people enough, they know us, we know them, sometimes it’s just the team that has the upper hand that day,” Yori said.

Sports writer Stephen Meyers can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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