BY JAMES D. CIMBUREK
A pair of tough losses on Senior Day is not the ideal way for the Mount Marty University softball team to enter the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament.
But for head coach Tate Bruckner’s squad, it gives them something to build on.
“I thought we played OK, but we didn’t play a full seven innings,” he said after the Lancers dropped two games to Doane on Saturday at Sertoma Park. “It was good to play games like this right now. It lets us know we have some things we need to sharpen up on.
“There are no more ‘tomorrows’ after this.”
Doane rallied from an early deficit to claim the opener 4-3.
Megan Elliott went 3-for-3 and Kayla Miller went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer for Doane. Jade Miller, Angelina Esqueda, Alicia Vint and Haley Kennedy each had a hit for the Tigers.
Makenzi Rockwell had a two-run home run and Emma Burns had a solo shot for MMU’s offense. Bailey Kortan, Kelly Amezcua and Karlee Arnold each had a hit.
Josie Schnakenberg picked up the win, striking out nine. Maureena “Mo” Vornhagen took the loss, striking out six. Kaylee Rogers struck out five in four innings of shutout relief.
Rockwell’s blast came two batters into the bottom of the first, but the Lancer lead was erased in the second on a two-run error. Miller’s two-run blast in the third gave the Tigers the lead for good.
Burns hit a shot just over the center field fence in the fifth inning to pull the Lancers within one, but Schnakenberg retired the final eight batters of the game to keep the Lancers at bay.
Shelby Doward had two doubles and three RBI as Doane claimed the nightcap 8-6.
Kennedy also had two hits for Doane. Hill, Vint, Miller and Kierney Skiles each had a hit for the Tigers.
Rockwell doubled twice and Arnold had two hits for Mount Marty. Amezcua doubled, and Burns, Kortan and Sarah Hart each had a hit in the effort.
Ashley Jacobson, who came in in relief in the fifth, picked up the win. Jill Orwig took the loss.
As they did in the opener, MMU took the lead early. The Lancers scored a run in the second on a wild pitch, then took advantage of two outfield errors and a run-scoring single by Arnold to plate two more in the third.
Doane plated two runs in the fourth, but a double play by the Lancer middle infielders kept the inning from being more damaging.
After the Lancers tacked on a run in the bottom of the fifth, Doane exploded in the sixth for six runs, capped by Downard’s bases-clearing double. MMU got two runs back in the bottom of the sixth, but could get no closer.
“We swung pretty well for the more part, but we needed a lot more timely hits,” Bruckner said. “Hopefully we’ll get things turned around and get more hitting at the right time.”
Rogers pitched in relief in both games, helping get the Lancers out of jams in nearly every inning she worked.
“Kaylee pitched well in both games,” Bruckner said. “I’m proud of her coming in and keeping us in the game.”
MMU will be the seventh seed in the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament, which begins on Wednesday. The Lancers will be in the Morningside pod, and will face the 11th-ranked Mustangs to open the tournament. The full schedule will be announced on Sunday, as there are still two games to be played by other teams.
Follow @JCimburek on Twitter.