LAMPASAS — Lampasas is suffering from a lack of confidence.
Historically, the Badgers’ baseball program has suffered, and the shortage of success has penetrated the team’s collective psyche, affecting its play on the field.
Tuesday afternoon against China Spring, a team with a rich history and four state championships, Lampasas committed four errors and produced multiple hits in only one inning en route to an 8-2 loss.
Following the defeat, Lampasas first-year head coach Steven Hutcherson admitted his team is not living up to its potential.
“I think we are more competitive (than we’ve been showing),” the coach said. “The whole coaching staff has been trying to tell them we are going to be able to play with just about anybody, but we’ve got to see those big moments and take full advantage of them.”
Lampasas trailed 1-0 after the second inning, but bounced back in the bottom of the third inning, when catcher Cutter Estep hit an RBI single to score Michael Metcalf.
But the Badgers let the game slip away in the following inning.
With two outs and a runner on second base, Cougars catcher Mason George delivered a hit to deep left field that was misplayed before the subsequent throw to third base from the cutoff man was high. The pair of errors allowed George to round the bases, giving China Spring a 3-1 advantage.
Moments later, the Badgers (6-5) committed another error trying to throw out batter Jason Prevatt. Blake Bottoms, who walked, scored from third base.
The Cougars added another run in the top of the sixth inning to build a 5-1 advantage. It appeared Lampasas positioned itself to put together a rally, but China Spring third baseman Tucker Johnson recorded an unassisted double play when designated hitter Trey Beauregard sent a shot right at Tucker, who then stepped on the base, getting out Estep, who instinctively ran for home.
“I still think we’ve got a lot to learn about the game,” Hutcherson said, referencing Estep leaving early. “Sometimes, your better instinct is to stay and not do anything. … (Trey) hit the ball hard, and that is what you want, but in that situation, I’d have taken a fly ball to left instead of a line drive to third.”
Estep, who went 2-for-4, agreed with his coach.
“I was frustrated with myself because I didn’t freeze on third,” the junior said.
But Lampasas immediately responded as Cullen Singleton connected on a triple in the following at-bat to score C.J. Vega, who was in as a courtesy runner for Ryan Baxter after the junior got on base with a double.
“I just tried to keep my eye on the ball and be simple with the bat,” said Singleton, who was 2-for-3.
The Badgers, however, would not catch another break.
Lampasas loaded the bases following a pair of walks, but the inning ended on a fly ball to left field, and China Spring added three runs on four hits in the top of the seventh inning to produce the final score.
Singleton, who earned the loss on the mound, and Estep were the only Badgers with multiple hits, while the Cougars finished with 10 hits and were walked a combined seven times by four Lampasas pitchers.
The Badgers host Austin Lanier today at 2 p.m. and Hemphill on Friday before opening District 8-3A play next Tuesday at home against Llano.
“(Before district, I want to see) that we can get out of our own way a little bit, and when we need to make a routine play, we make it,” Hutcherson said. “We’ve got to find a way to make those crucial outs in a game and not make an error and hand it to them.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com