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TMP softball swept by Goodland

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Thomas More Prep-Marian softball coach Melissa Schoepf knows where the true battle lies, and it's within her own players.

The Monarchs are young, inexperienced and struggling in their first season back after a three-year hiatus, which was to be expected. Schoepf only hopes the players understand how important it is to take positive lessons out of the losses.

"I think we are getting better. We are really working on the mental side of this, trying to stay positive and take this for a learning experience," Schoepf said.

"This is only going to make us better. People look at what the record is and think we are struggling. But I kind of told them it's a deceiving record. I think we are better than what we are, and I think we have potential to finish out strong here in the last part of the season."

But on Friday in a doubleheader against Goodland -- a makeup from April 29 -- TMP still had to deal with adversity in 12-5 and 14-3 losses to the Cowgirls at TMP Field.

The Monarchs are 5-11 this season with a roster of predominantly freshmen and sophomores. But there is also potential for growth, which showed in the first part of Game 1 against Goodland on Friday, when TMP took a 4-0 lead after two innings.

"We had been struggling a little bit recently coming out in the first couple of innings," Schoepf said. "We were able to hold them in that first game. So that's kind of been a key for us, to come out ready to play and not take until the fourth or fifth inning to be ready."

Unfortunately for TMP, the lead wouldn't last. The Cowgirls tied the game after four innings, and combined for eight more runs in the fifth and sixth innings to run away with the contest. Goodland outhit TMP 12-4, aided by four fielding errors from the Monarchs.

"We had a couple of breakdowns in the third inning of that first game defensively, communication wise. And you saw the momentum start to change there a little bit," Schoepf said. "We got to find a way to be consistent mentally, to know errors are going to happen. Strikeouts are going to happen. But we have to find a way to stay in it mentally."

TMP hung tough through two innings in Game 2, with neither team scoring a run. Then Goodland opened it up with three runs in the third and fourth innings, followed by a five-run fifth inning to lead 11-0 heading into the bottom frame of that inning.

The Monarchs fought back to temporarily avoid the run-rule, when freshman Alison Helget's two-RBI double scored the first two of three runs that inning for TMP. However, the Cowgirls got all three runs back in the next frame and finished the game in six innings.

"This is a mental game. Once you are out of it mentally, it's very tough to get out. That's what we keep emphasizing to them: we can't quit. We cannot quit no matter how hard this gets, no matter how difficult," Schoepf said.

"People have jumped on us or maybe scored or really hit the ball well offensively off of us and we've had our chances to just kind of lay there and take that and kind of die. But we haven't done that. We've always kept battling, so I got to give them credit for staying with it and never having that die attitude."

The Monarchs finish out the regular season with a doubleheader at Plainville (May 6), and will host TMP will host the MCAA Tournament at TMP Field on May 13.