Errors and too many runners left on base cost St. James prime positioning.
Now, the Sharks will see if what they’ve got in the tank is enough to overcome it.
St. James lost 4-2 to Ashley Ridge on Monday in the second round of the Class 5A District 4 playoffs. As a result, they’ll have to now win an elimination game on Wednesday to stay alive and then win back-to-back games at Ashley Ridge on Friday in order to advance to the lower state playoff series.
“Sometime we have a little Monday blues, as I call it,” junior Natalie Spiva said after the loss. “I think we’ll bounce back and figure it out. We’ll execute the plays and execute the at-bats.”
The Sharks very well could do just that. After all, this is a team that won the Region VI-5A crown and entered the playoffs averaging 10 runs per game while limited defensive miscues.
However, against the Swamp Foxes, both of those avenues fell short.
St. James committed five errors, including one that led to Ashley Ridge’s third run of the game in the third and two more that allowed a sixth-inning insurance run. The Sharks eliminated further damage from two more but got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second with a double play.
That was only the first part of the problem Monday, though.
The Sharks also went relatively cold on offense. Spiva’s first-inning solo home run and freshman Heidi Stewart’s groundout RBI in the fourth were the start and finish of the team’s output.
In total, coach Adam Jones’ team left nine runners on base and stranded seven of those in scoring position. Starting Ashley Ridge pitcher Ally Eubanks — who also knocked in two of the Swamp Foxes’ runs — scattered six hits, well below the Sharks’ season average.
“There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds,” Jones said. “You can’t put yourselves in a hole against a pitcher like that, against a team like this. We’ve played better all year. We just picked a bad day to have a bad day.”
Ashley Ridge will now have three full days of rest before hosting the district finals on Friday. They’ll face the winner of Wednesday’s White Knoll-St. James game (at St. James), needing to win one game to advance.
The Sharks believe they can run the table. But they’ll have to prove it.
“I’m not mad at them. I’m not disappointed in them. Because they’re already telling themselves the things that need to be said,” Jones said. “You could see it in their faces and see it in their eyes. We try to be a scrappy team. We’ve got to be able to claw back.”