Inconsistent play hurts Crook County as they finish in the middle of the pack at 20-team tournament

At times, the Crook County Cowgirls looked unbeatable.

Unfortunately, there were other times when they looked average as they as the team finished with a 2-2 record at the 20-team Central Oregon Spring Break Softball LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jena Ovens blasts a home run during the Cowgirls' 9-8 loss to Philomath Monday afternoon. Crook County finished with a 2-2 record at the Central Oregon Spring Break Softball Tournament which was held Monday and Tuesday at Skyline Sports Complex in Bend.

“We’re making good plays,” said Crook County Head Coach Jessica Cross following the tournament. “We’re being smart, we just struggled in the first game both days, then in the second game we finally came alive.”

The Bend Lava Bears knocked off Cascade 10-5 in the championship round to win the tournament, which was held at Bend’s Skyline Sports Complex.

Meanwhile, the Cowgirls lost their opening contest each day of the two-day tournament before rebounding to win game two.

Crook County jumped on top of Philomath 2-0 in the top of the first inning of game one of the tournament. The Cowgirls built a 4-2 lead after the top of the third inning.

However, Philomath exploded for five runs in the bottom of the third inning to take control of the LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kelsee Martin catches a throw at first base for an easy out  while players from Ashland look on dejectedly. The Cowgirls rallied from an 8-1 deficit to defeat Ashland 11-8.

The Cowgirls were trailing 7-5 before Jena Ovens ripped a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning. However, Philomath responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning. Crook County rallied in the seventh inning as Bailee Wood singled and later scored. Hits by Karlee Hollis and Ovens put runners on second and third with two outs. However, a timely strikeout by the Philomath pitcher preserved the win for the 4-4 Warriors.

Philomath finished the game with 13 hits, while the Cowgirls had 11 hits in the contest.

Wood finished with three hits for the Cowgirls, while Aspen Christensen finished with three RBIs.

Game two of the tournament saw the Ashland Grizzlies (1-5) took advantage of several walks to jump out to a 8-0 lead. Crook County finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning as Emily Benton scored from third on a ground ball to the shortstop.

Benton, who relieved starting pitcher Hailey Smith in the fourth inning, shut the Grizzlies out the remainder of the contest, allowing just two hits in four innings of work. Meanwhile the Cowgirl bats finally came to life as they scored five runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to win the game 11-8.

“Our bats have got to wake up,” Cross told her team following the Ashland contest. “Instead of complaining because of how slow the pitching is, make the adjustments, praise baby Jesus and take batting practice all day long.”

Despite the admonition, the Cowgirls continued to struggle against slow pitching again Tuesday morning as Bonanza jumped out to a 5-0 lead over Crook County. The Cowgirls scored four runs in the fourth inning to make the game close. However, Bonanza (7-3) responded with a pair of runs in the sixth and one in the seventh as they held on for an 8-6 win.

Jena Ovens and Ashley Bond each had a double and two RBIs in the contest as the Cowgirls finished with 12 hits in the game.

Once again the Cowgirls fell behind early in their final game of the tournament as Regis scored four runs in the first inning. Crook County rallied to score five runs in the third and eight runs in the fourth as they cruised to a 14-4 win in the game which was shortened to five innings because of the 10-run rule.

Crook County finished the game with 18 hits, including three each by Ovens and Hollis. Kelsee Martin, Karlee, Hollis, and Wood each had two RBIs in the contest as the Cowgirls ran their record to 4-2.

“We got players on the field that haven’t seen any playing time yet,” Cross said. “It’s just a matter of getting these young kids the experience that they need to be successful.”

Crook County doesn’t play again until Wednesday, April 2, when they host La Pine (4-1) in a 4 p.m. matchup.

Monday games

Philomath 8, Crook County 7

Crook County 2 1 1 1 0 1 1 — 7 11 1

Philomath 2 0 5 0 0 1 x — 8 13 6

Crook County 11, Ashland 8

Ashland 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 — 8 7 5

Crook County 0 0 0 1 5 5 x — 11 9 1

Tuesday games

Bonanza 8, Crook County 6

Bonanza 0 1 4 0 0 2 1 — 8 12 1

Crook County 0 0 0 4 0 1 1 — 6 12 3

Crook County 14, Regis 4

Regis 4 0 0 0 0 x x — 4 5

Crook County 0 0 5 8 1 x x — 14 18

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