The strong wind never changed, but the Stew-Stras/Windsor bats did with three outs left in the Comets' first game of the season, a 7-6 loss on Tuesday.
The Comets managed one hit in the first six innings against Central A&M pitcher Addie Collins, who struck out seven, and trailed 7-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
Collins retired Comets catcher Lindsay Burton after Courtney Schultz led off the inning with a double, but Kennedy Ferris, Madison Quast and Baylee Quast hit consecutive doubles to spark a rally.
Central A&M head coach Wayne Jordan visited Collins on the mound, after Madison Quast drove in pinch runner Katie Greuel for the second run of the inning, but didn't take her out. He said, after the game, he should've pulled her sooner.
“She ran out of gas,” Jordan said. “She was dominating for about five innings. We just built a lead up and got the (win) because of it.”
But Jordan kept Collins in the game and SS/W's Bayleigh Tabor grounded out for the second out, scoring Madison Quast. Mercedez Austin singled to drive in Baylee Quast before a Kendall Knop double brought in the fifth run of the inning.
“You got from being dominated the first three innings to going to the last out with Becca (Schlechte) and saying that's a game we probably should've won,” Comets head coach Kyle Knop said.
Allison Kresin replaced Collins with two outs in the seventh and forced Schlechte into a pop out at first base, saving the game for the Raiders.
Seven of the Comets' nine batters made only their third plate appearances in the seventh inning, until the lineup turned around to Knop in the lead-off spot.
“(The Comets) hit well, at the end,” Jordan said. “I don't know that we had a play to make. You can't do anything about base hits.”
The Comets struck out seven times in their first time through the batting order, as Collins finished with seven strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings. She gave up seven hits.
“She didn't seem like she was going to throw it by us there, but she was spotting the ball really well,” Knop said. “She had enough velocity that when she was placing it on the corners, she was doing it really well.”
Knop broke up a perfect game to start the fourth inning with a triple. She scored on a double steal, with Schlechte on first, for the Comets' first run of the game.
Schultz walked to put runners at first and second, no outs, trailing 4-1, but confusion on the next at-bat cost the Comets an opportunity to score more runs.
Burton was called out on the infield fly rule. Schlechte was called out at third base after advancing on a dropped infield fly by Central A&M's Olivia Jordan.
“You hate to see that rally get snubbed out by a fly ball that lands 15 feet from the plate,” Knop said.
Ferris popped out to strand Schultz on base and the Raiders capitalized for three runs in the next inning. Jordan picked up three RBIs in the fifth inning, reaching second base on an error by center fielder Megan Cress.
Knop led the Comets with two hits, scoring once, but took the loss on the mound. She gave up seven runs in five innings. Schlechte pitched two shutout innings, in relief, with one strikeout.
Taylor Jordan and Kaley Hennings led the Raiders with two hits apiece, each scoring two runs. Jordan had two doubles. Mo Hunter also had two hits.
The Comets' next game is at 4:15 p.m. Thursday in Shelbyville.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central A&M 103 030 0 7 8 1
Stew-Stras/Windsor 000 100 5 6 7 4
WP - Collins (6.2 IP, 6 R, 7 H, 7 K) LP- Knop (5 IP, 7 R, 6 H, 3 K)
A&M: T Jordan (2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, SB), Hennings (2-4, 2 R, SB), Friesner (1B, 2 R, RBI), Damery (R), Hunter (2-4, 2 RBI), O Jordan (3 RBI), Collins (1B)
SS/W: Knop (2-4, 2B, 3B, RBI, R, SB), Schultz (BB, 1B, R), Ferris (2B, RBI), M. Quast (2B, RBI, R), B. Quast (2B, RBI, R), Tabor (RBI), Austin (RBI, R)