For the second time in three days, anything Bluffton could do, Lancaster did better.
And for the second time in three days, the end result was the same: A loss, this time ending the home team's run in the Dixie Softball X-Play Angels state tournament.
Bluffton's 9- and 10-year-olds did their best to battle against some of the state's best young softball players, but in Lancaster, it ran up against a more powerful, more disciplined team. Lancaster pulled away after the first inning, cruising to a 12-2, 3-inning victory. Despite the loss, Bluffton Coach Craig Kovacs said he is proud of his team and they work they put in this summer.
"I think from a rec league, putting these girls together for 5 weeks, working their tails of, it's really shown that we can compete at this level," coach Craig Kovacs said. "I think they did a phenomenal job. They absolutely crushed what we expected them to do."
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Still, some disappointment lingered for the girls.
"They are not happy with the loss, but as coaches, we were very happy with what we saw," Kovacs said.
Bluffton kept things close early, getting on the scoreboard first when Taylor Comes crossed the plate on a passed ball. Lancaster would score one of their own to tie things up after the first, and four more in the second.
The locals got a rally going in the third, loading the bases with two out. Giovana Rodriguez's infield hit drove in another run, but they could do no more damage against solid Lancaster pitching. Kovacs said the team struggled the most at the plate, where making contact against better pitchers with higher velocities was difficult. He said that is the main area where he thinks the girls should strive for improvement as they move forward in their athletic careers.
"Learning how to hit at this level of pitching," Kovacs said. "We didn't hit the ball very well. We need to get more quality-timed hits."
Bluffton finishes the tournament 1-2, with a win over Beaufort to show for their efforts.
Tournament play continues Tuesday and Wednesday at Oscar Frazier Park.