The Pirates and Cougars were tied at 1 through two innings of play and then the bats came alive as Macks Creek jumped ahead with four runs in the third en route to a 12-1 road win in five innings.

It took a while for Macks Creek to get things going Monday night in a showdown with neighbor Climax Springs.

The Pirates and Cougars were tied at 1 through two innings of play and then the bats came alive as Macks Creek jumped ahead with four runs in the third en route to a 12-1 road win in five innings.

“They kept us out on our front foot, we kept getting underneath pitches low and popping them up and those are easy plays,” Macks Creek coach Jason Trusty said of the quiet offensive start. “Climax made the plays behind their pitcher on those. It took a couple of innings to get back on our balance a little bit letting the balls go and actually working the count. Once we made the adjustment, I thought we did a good job of putting runners on and scoring some runs from there.”

Alyssa Seaholm’s leadoff single in the first inning followed by two stolen bases led to the first Pirate run of the night on a groundout RBI from Jesse Willis.

Climax Springs responded in the second with a little bit of plate discipline as a series of walks including one from Hailey McIntosh tied the game up. However, it was the lone run of the night for Climax Springs who left 11 runners on base. McIntosh had the lone Cougar hit while C.J. Dake reached twice on a fielder’s choice.

“A lot of young girls that have not played before are getting experience, which is good for them,” Climax Springs coach Derek Carnahan said. “The ceiling is high, and as long as they keep playing and gain experience I think we’ll be alright.”

Willis added her second and third RBIs of the night in the third inning with a ball hit to centerfield that allowed her to reach third base and Bobbie Hilton hit a bloop single to bring Willis home and Shaylee Skinner added the fourth run of the inning with an RBI single.

Macks Creek added one more run in the fourth on Seaholm’s groundout RBI and finished the night off with seven runs in the fifth where 11 hitters came to the plate.

Burke started in the circle for Climax Springs and the pitcher worked the first 4 1/3 innings allowing 10 runs, nine earned, on eight hits with two strikeouts and four walks. McIntosh pitched in relief and allowed three runs on two hits with two walks. Carnahan was pleased with the start, but noted the arm may have worn down a bit.

“Pitchers the last few games have been doing better, but when they have those long innings it is tiring for them. The last few games we’ve started well, which has been our issue,” the coach stated. “We started the year getting behind early and then we’re out of it, so if we can just keep it close at the beginning.

“It is mostly pitching and that is the one thing. If we can start throwing strikes it gives us a chance every night to win.”

Still, Monday night was a sign of growth and improvement.

“The girls did great tonight. The last two games have been good for them,” Carnahan pointed out. “Pitchers have thrown strikes, we’ve put the ball in play getting baserunners on and getting outs when we need to.”

There was plenty for Trusty to be happy about as well. Willis (1-1) got the start in the circle and threw five innings allowing just a single hit and run while walking eight and striking out eight. Willis pitched an inning against Stoutland last Thursday and delivered her longest outing of the season in what is a busy week for Macks Creek with six games in store.

“We were hoping she could handle the load and she did a good job. She had not thrown in a while and that was the longest outing she’s had all season,” Trusty said. “She was in and out of the zone and walked some, but our defense played pretty well behind her and she struck out some batters so she did great.”

Willis, Hilton and Skinner led the way with two hits each and Willis produced four RBIs to lead the way. Hilton and Seaholm finished with two RBIs and Skinner, Kenzie Hicks, Molly Phillips and Bethany Schmidt finished with an RBI as well.

Macks Creek (8-6) was scheduled to visit Richland Tuesday and will visit Springfield Central on Thursday before tournament play in Hermitage over the weekend.

“We know we have an opportunity to pick up a couple more ‘Ws’ this week and our goal is to ultimately come out with a few more,” Trusty said. “As the week goes on we are going to start getting more tired and that is where we are going to have to dig down real deep. Our approach is always one game at a time and the one thing we can control is what we are doing... By the end of the week we should be ok.”

Monday night was Senior Night for the Climax Springs softball program as both CJ and Maddy Dake and Skylar Austin were honored for their contributions. Carnahan commended CJ for sticking with him the past four years, even when the Cougars were not able to field a team her sophomore year, while he commended the other two for coming out to play.

“She (CJ) has put in a lot of work an filled in behind the plate last year. She has got some knee problems and she is just fighting through it and is never one to complain,” Carnahan said. “Skylar and Maddy coming out this year was great for the team. Great leadership and they worked hard all year.”

Along with the contributions of those seniors and every other Cougar who steps on the diamond each night, the coach is hoping a solid foundation will be set so there does not have to be any years in the future without softball.

“Hopefully more and more girls will be interested in playing. We’ve filled 12 to 13 (spots) the last few years and that is great for us,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep building on that.”

For now, Climax Springs (0-7) was scheduled to host Humansville Tuesday night and will visit Montrose on Thursday.

“We’ve got Humansville tomorrow night and it should be a great game here,” Carnahan said after Monday’s game. “The girls are pumped and excited and hopefully everyone comes out and supports the team.”