Loar hits 2-run homer to lead Concordia past TC
by ERICH HILKERT
TALLADEGA—Talladega College had a 5-4 lead at the start of the seventh inning, but were unable to hang onto it and ended up falling 7-5 to Concordia University in the first game of Shea Brothers Invitation at the Talladega Sports Complex.

It was a difficult loss; the team’s 11th in a row, but head coach C.J. Combs remained forceful in trying to keep her team positive, vowing to win the nightcap game against Alcorn State.

“It’s been tough,” she said. “We’ve played a lot of very, very tough competition the past couple weeks. It’s kind of got the girls’ morale down a little bit. They just have to realize we have to compete in these games and get better as we go. Rebuilding this program is going to take time, but we’re competing and that’s the main thing: we’re competing. As long as we don’t give up and keep going through, we’re going to go ahead and start a winning streak next game.”

The game had been tied from the fourth inning through the bottom of the sixth inning, when TC was able to put one run on the scoreboard to break the 4-4 tie. Lauren Parker hit a single into the gap in left-center field, then Jan Thomas hit a hard grounder back to pitcher Kortney Loar who fielded the ball cleanly but her throw to first base got away from the first baseman travelling into foul territory in right field. That allowed Parker to score.

In the seventh inning, starting pitcher Carlie Keenum got Jessica Barjaktarovich to strike out and Cheyenne Brierley to flyout to left field. Only one out away, Kristina Butcher was hit by a pitch and went to first base. Next, Butcher stole second base. Grace Muller hit a single up the middle and the throw to the plate was not in time, tying the game at 5-5. Loar came up to bat and slammed the ball to straight away center field for a two-run home run to give Concordia a 7-5 lead.

After Lindsey Sims gave TC a little hope with a double to left field, Loar retired the next three batters with Jessica Thornton being the final out on a called strike three.

“We had some hits but not as timely as we needed them,” Combs said. “Overall, defense did really well. Hitting—we executed when we needed to execute. We laid down some good bunts. We just came up short.”

Loar finished the game as a complete game win with nine strikeouts out of the circle and went 2-3 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs.

“Kortney did a good job,” Concordia head coach Greg Brierley said. “Kortney’s from California. She came in and pitched a real good game, pitched a tough game. We didn’t have a whole lot of support behind her as far as our defense. We made a lot of mental mistakes, but we overcame that and then Kortney helped herself out there in the top of the seventh inning with a two-run homer.”

Muller gave Concordia the first lead in the game in the second inning when she hit a two-run home run in the top of the second inning.

TC rallied in the bottom of the second inning. Thomas reached first base on a throwing error by the third baseman. With two runners on, Julisha Cook hit a ball that was just beyond the reach of the left fielder for a double, scoring two runs. Cook later scored in the inning on a fielder’s choice to give TC a 3-2 lead.

After Concordia tied it 3-3, Parker hit a solo home run to left field to help TC retake the lead, 4-3.

Parker finished the game two for three with two runs scored and an RBI for TC.

“She’s actually come around quite a bit,” Combs said of Parker. “She struggled a little bit to begin with, and now she’s starting to really get comfortable and find her groove and I think that she was due today. She was due and she came through.”

Loar scored on a Kimberly Jason single in the top of the fourth to tie it at 4-4.

Concordia made a long trip to Talladega all the way from Ann Arbor, Mich. Brierley said the weather has made it difficult for his team to get outside.

“We’re getting better each game,” he said. “We came down from Michigan. Yesterday was our first day outside since last fall. We haven’t even been outside. Each day we’re getting better.”

Combs said having only two regular pitchers has made things challenging, but she is encouraged by the continual improvement she has seen from her pitchers.

“I think our pitching—it’s improved a lot; we still have a lot to work on,” she said. “Having only two regular pitchers, it’s tough as a college team. But our pitchers are working hard. They improve all the time, so I think they’re doing fine.”
© 2013