The Canyon softball team knew its offensive opportunities would likely be scarce with Calabasas right-hander Jessica Ross on the mound.
The Cowboys found a rhythm against the Ohio State commit in the third inning of Thursday afternoon’s preleague contest at Canyon.
But that inning was merely a hiccup in an otherwise spotless outing as the Cowboys went down on strikes on 14 occasions in a 5-4 loss to Calabasas.
“I think lack of experience was one of the things,” Canyon coach Jeanetta Sauceda-Reynolds. “The top half of our lineup is returning varsity players and the bottom is still getting used to the pitching at this level.”
Calabasas (5-1) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third inning. Coyotes catcher Julia Gubner belted a two-run homer of Canyon starter Kate Post in the first inning and they tacked on three more in the third.
Canyon (1-3) countered with its four runs in the bottom half of the third. Melissa Spencer drove in a pair with a triple and Kailee Powell followed her with an RBI single. Post closed out the scoring with an RBI double and was stranded on third to end the inning.
“They didn’t let this fantastic pitcher get in their head for the most part,” Sauceda-Reynolds said. “They battled back and we’ve shriveled up in those type of scenarios in the past.”
The top of Canyon’s order started the makings of a rally in the sixth but couldn’t push across a run.
Spencer reached on a fielder’s choice with one out but was doubled off first after a pop-out from Powell. The Cowboys recorded just a single, which came from Powell, beyond the third-inning rally.
“Especially since she’s throwing hard, you just have to go up there and think, ‘I’m going to hit it if it’s close and just swing the bat,’’” Post said.
Two of the three runs Post gave up in the third were unearned. She struck out four in a complete-game effort.
“I just trusted my defense behind me,” Post said. “I couldn’t let my mentality get in the way of a good outing just because of the home run in the first. I had to push through it.”
The Cowboys also nearly struck for a run in the first. They loaded the bases with one away before back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning.
Canyon resumes preleague play at 11 a.m. on Saturday against Burbank in the Hart Tournament.