By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Daily Sun –
Minutes after Navarro split a doubleheader with Paris on Wednesday, Navarro softball Coach Jessica Karenke was told her Bulldogs had just been nationally ranked and are now No. 16 in the NJCAA national softball poll.
She had no idea.
And she didn’t care.
Karenke is worried about what happens on the diamond, and she had some concerns after Navarro made four errors in the second game that opened the door for Paris to pull off a 7-2 win after the Bulldogs and Ciara Luna controlled the first game with a 4-1 win.
The loss in the nightcap didn’t hurt Navarro in the standings. The Bulldogs are now 16-2 and have already nailed down first place in the Region XIV East race with two games left next week against Kilgore.
It was just an odd day for Navarro and four uncharacteristic errors sure didn’t help.
“It’s just humbling,” Karenke said of the loss. “It shows us if we don’t come out and work, someone is going to get us. It felt a little off today. We know we have to get refocused and get something going. We’re going to use this as full.
“I’m glad it happened now,” she said as her team heads into the stretch run with two games next week before going to the Region XIV Tournament on May 1-4. “We’ve had a great year.”
Karenke believes her kids will bounce back, and play well in the postseason. That’s another reason she hasn’t worried all year about the rankings, and being ranked No. 16 won’t mean anything if Navarro doesn’t make a run in the postseason.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” said Karenke, whose initial response was to just smile as if to say ‘what am I supposed to say’. It’s just that the girls have worked hard and played hard for the entire year.”
Navarro looked sharp and Luna had no trouble with Paris, going the distance and not allowing an earned run. She struck out five and gave up just six hits.
Camrie Helm pitched the second game and was hurt by errors. Three errors in the third inning gave Paris a 4-1 lead and Navarro had trouble scoring off Paris ace Hunter Offill, who went the distance and gave up just seven hits. Three of those came with two outs in the seventh, but Offill escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting a force out at third to end the game.
Helm gave up three earned runs on nine hits and Britney Bledsoe gave up an unearned run in the seventh when yet another error cost Navarro.
“My pitchers pitched well,” Karenke said. “Camrie battled back after the errors and pitched well. It’s one of those games that we learn from.
Luna gave up an unearned run in the first inning in the opening game and then slammed the door on Paris, and Navarro bounced right back and scored twice in the bottom of the first.
Destiny Kennedy reached first on an error, went to second on a passed ball and third on Jade Havard’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a passed ball. Mo Miller walked, stole second and came home on Alyssa Dotson’s single to give Navarro a 2-1 lead.
Megan Noel drove in the third run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth and Miller, who went 2 for 3 in the opener, singled home Caitlin Moerbe, who singled and stole second before coming home.
Moerbe, the fastest runner on the Navarro team, scored a run in the third inning of the second game on a bunt and a throwing error as the throw to first went into the right field corner.
Kristen Ahearn put the Bulldogs on the board in the second game with a home run in the second.
Navarro had a two-out threat in the ninth when Kristin Lopez Moerbe and Kennedy all had infield hits, and could have had more if not for a run-saving play by Paris third baseman Chelsea Jordan, who managed to knock down Miller’s liner to save two runs and end the game by forcing out Moerbe, who made the play close at third.