Freshman third baseman Kaylea Preheim falls to the ground after diving for a pop-up. At the right is catcher Belle Knarr.

The veteran Strafford softball team had an easy time with the inexperienced Houston Lady Tigers.

Strafford, which returns eight starters from last year’s state quarterfinal team, had 11 hits and took advantage of shaky play from the young Lady Tigers as they cruised to a 12-0 victory Monday at Carter Field.

The Lady Indians were too much for a Houston team that started six freshmen. The Lady Tigers (0-1) committed four errors — leading to five unearned runs — and misplayed several more balls that allowed baserunners to advance.

Second-year coach Willy Walker thought his players could have been more aggressive in the field.

“I thought they were very hesitant,” Walker said. “I’ve got a couple girls that even though they are freshmen, they are playmakers. I don’t know if it’s the crowd or the game is faster. I’m going to talk to them and find out. That’s something we’ve got to overcome.”

Walker, who had six senior starters last year, knew there would be ups and downs this season with a lineup of mostly freshmen. The opener was the latter.

After getting consecutive two-out hits to score three times in the first inning, Strafford pushed across five runs in the second. The Lady Tigers committed throwing errors on two bunts in the inning, leading to three unearned runs and a quick 8-0 deficit.

“I wish we could have made some positive plays,” Walker said. “We had two bunt plays that we should have at least had an out. We work on it in practice. It just hasn’t become second nature yet.”

Houston had a difficult time against Strafford’s hard-throwing left-hander. Seven of the Lady Tigers’ first nine batters struck out and the other two outs didn’t leave the infield.

Houston didn’t manage a baserunner until junior Bayle Harrah led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a double. The Lady Tigers struck out 11 times, including the final four batters in the fifth. One of those reached on the third strike to extend the inning.

After several unsuccessful at-bats in the first two innings, Walker had the players in the lower half of the lineup attempt to bunt. Those attempts were also unsuccessful.

“We tried to go small ball on them,” Walker said. “We’d get down in the count, then you’ve got to hit with two strikes and we’d be behind the pitch.”

Junior right-hander Carmen Floyd took the loss, giving up 11 hits and seven earned runs in five innings. She struck out six and walked four.

“I think it was a good wake-up call for us,” Walker said. “Hopefully we can take something positive from it and make ourselves better.”

JUNIOR VARSITY: Kaylea Preheim had a RBI single in the JV Lady Tigers’ 12-2 loss Monday to Strafford.

Whitnie Enfield doubled for Houston. Taylor Franklin singled and stole two bases. Kayla Kelley also singled.

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