WALCOTT, IOWA — It was an eye-opening experience.
Members of the Princeton Fastpitch Church League ventured into the next level of fast pitch softball, playing in the International Softball Congress Qualifier in Walcott, Iowa. Princeton fell by the 7-run rule in five innings on Friday and once again Saturday 11-1.
“It was a tough taste of fastpitch softball over the weekend,” Princeton coach Rex Lasson said. “It was obvious that we need to be better prepared. We struggled hitting and our defense wasn’t sharp. We were up against teams who play more games than we do. That just reinforces that we need to work harder next year 1 1/2 months before.
“The experience was good because we learned what we have to do to compete. Our guys played hard and I was pleased with the effort. I suspected we would struggle hitting but thought our defense would play better. First year jitters.”
Mike Patterson of Bunker Hill said it was “a positive experience to practice and play with the guys you compete against during the regular season. The challenge of hitting against a different style of pitching was also a positive experience for the guys.”
Friday’s loss came at the hands of the hometown team called Lampliter of Walcott, which would go on to win the tournament and qualify for the World Tournament in August in the Quad Cities. Princeton pitcher Chris Waca surrendered a first-inning home run, but Lasson felt like his team would have held its own had it not been for some errors in the field.
On Saturday, Princeton took a 1-0 lead over Dillon’s of Galena in the top of the first inning on Patterson’s RBI double off the right field fence.
Patterson added another hit in the game as did Justin Smith, but they did not score again.
Dillon’s scored four runs off Princeton starter Bret Lasson, who struggled with his control. With a 7-1 lead, the Dillon’s pitcher hit a walk-off grand slam just over the left field fence off Jeremy House to evoke the 7-run rule.
Dillon’s was knocked out in its next round game in the double-elimination tournament.
Lasson believes the interest is there among the Princeton players to come back next year, or even explore other tournaments. He does not want to take away from the Church League’s games on Friday and Saturday nights, however.
The Church League scheduled a bye week to accommodate those players in Walcott.
Regular season play resumes Friday and Saturday at Westside Park.