ENID, Okla. — Enid softball head coach Danielle Smith found herself focusing on the minor positives following a 23-0 thumping by Broken Arrow Tuesday in the Pacers' home opener at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
"There's definitely some positives to come out of today, even though people looking at the score might not realize that," she said after the five-inning run-rule defeat. "We do have positives that we're building off of."
One day after a pair of shutout losses on the road against Choctaw by a combined score of 26-0, Smith felt her squad did a better job of making contact at the plate. The Pacers averaged nearly two strikeouts per inning in two games Monday. In five innings of play Tuesday, Enid had just three.
The Pacers (0-3) grounded out eight times and flew out four, but were unable to find a gap in Broken Arrow's defense to get a runner on base. Lady Tigers' pitcher Kailee Reese threw five perfect innings with 38 of her 54 pitches resulting in a strike.
"We swung the bat better today, even though it didn't look like it," Smith said.
Broken Arrow built its lead early with a four-run top half of the first inning before taking complete control of the contest with an additional 14 runs in the second to lead 18-0. The Lady Tigers batted through the order twice in the half inning alone. Maci Cole, who led off the second inning with a single, stepped to the plate three times and popped up to center field for the third out.
Enid gave up 10 hits — nine of which were singles — and committed eight errors during Broken Arrow's offensive outburst. The Pacers ended the game with 11 errors recorded on the scoreboard. They had a total of 13 errors against Choctaw.
Smith said her pitchers did their job of getting pop ups and ground outs against the Lady Tigers, but the rest of the Pacers behind them weren't able to do their part.
"We still should have made some plays on defense," she said. "That'll come with getting the jitters out. We have some young players that have never played these positions, so I think it comes back to their confidence on the field."
Smith pointed out another positive in Enid's ability to bounce back in the third inning and hold Broken Arrow to just one run — a solo home run to left-center — and retire three of the five batters faced.
The final result of Tuesday's game could have been worse for the Pacers had they not received a bit of assistance from the Lady Tigers.
After two more runs scored for Broken Arrow on five straight singles to start the top of the fourth inning, the Lady Tigers intentionally surrendered three outs in an attempt to speed up the pace of the contest. With no outs and the bases loaded, one by one the Broken Arrow base runners jogged to their dugout as three outs were recorded.
Broken Arrow did something similar in the fifth inning after a two-run home run by Kyleigh Lamont made the score 23-0. When Kailee Reese and Makayla Schmidt reached base safely on a walk and a single, they each made their way back to the third-base dugout before the next pitch.
Enid pitcher Tomieya Stewart forced a fly out for the third out before the Pacers went down in order in the bottom half to end the game.
Smith said the main thing Enid needs to work on moving forward is increasing the confidence of the players and determining which ones are "hungry" to go out and play.
"I think we saw that a little bit more later on in the third inning," she said. "We saw those kids that had a little bit more intensity like, 'I want the ball. I want that out.' We have to build off that and keep it going for them."
Enid returns to the field Friday and Saturday for the El Reno Tournament in El Reno. The Pacers face Noble at 10 a.m. Friday. Enid got their first win of the 2018 season a year ago at the El Reno Tournament against Northwest Classen, 11-7.