In nearly all walks of life, youth is coveted. In high school sports, not so much.
As promising as the future can sometimes look through the rose-colored glasses of a young team gaining valuable experience, growing pains manifest themselves in a number of ways.
For the Cass softball team, the struggles showed up most notably on defense Tuesday in a 13-3 loss to Hiram at home.
The final score doesn't tell the tale of how close the game was for the majority of the evening. The Colonels (1-8, 1-4 Region 7-AAAAA) actually led 3-1 heading into the fourth inning.
"We got complacent," Cass coach Greg Hight said. "We were ahead right there, and we thought they were going to roll over for us. There were several popups and balls we should have made plays on that we didn't make plays on. It's like I told the girls, 'You have to want the ball hit to you every play.' ... That's what we've got to learn."
The top of the fourth was when the wheels started to come off for Cass.
Two soft line-drives to the outfield that should have resulted in singles turned into costly errors with the runners both times ending up on third base. It was that snowball effect that the Colonels couldn't slow down Tuesday.
"We've got a bad habit of that," Hight said. "When one thing happens, something else is going to happen, because we have our heads down because of the other mistake that we made. That's something they have to move on from. ... We didn't do that."
Each play was followed by a run-scoring groundout, offering a clean slate. Hiram, though, managed to tack on another run later in the frame for a 4-3 lead it would not relinquish.
The Hornets tacked on three more runs in the fifth, a single tally in the sixth and a five-spot in the seventh highlighted by Kyleigh Haney's three-run homer.
Cass, meanwhile, wouldn't score again after plating a trio of runs in the first inning.
Six players had one hit apiece. Eryn Lee and Kelly Young both had a hit, a walk and a run scored. Kylee Hembree and Haley Owens each went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
"We were very impatient," Hight said of the offense. "We weren't swinging at good pitches. We knew what she was throwing, but we weren't making an adjustment. I want them to be aggressive at the plate, but I want them to be patient for a good pitch. That's what they've got to learn, and that's all of us."
Despite the demoralizing defeat, Hight said the Colonels still have a chance to compete in Region 7-AAAAA. Considering Tuesday's loss finished up as the most-lopsided result thus far, Cass has shown an ability to compete with most teams remaining on the schedule.
"It's still early in the season," Hight said. "Yeah, we're 1-4 in the region, but it's a 16-[game] region schedule. ... We know we can compete with and beat every team we've played so far. We know we're still competitive in the region, and we still know there's a long way to go."
North Murray 6, Adairsville 2
The Adairsville softball team's theme of 2018 continued Tuesday. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the theme has been close losses in Region 6-AAA play.
The latest of those defeats came in a 6-2 decision against North Murray on the road.
The Mountaineers plated two runs in the first, three in the third and one in the fifth. Adairsville put up single runs in the third and seventh frames.
Sierra Tanner led the Tigers with two hits. Sadye Johnson, Chloe Souders, Natalie Burrow and Cornti Jacobs had one hit apiece.
Adairsville drops to 1-7 in region action. Only two of the eight margins have been more than five runs and none have been greater than eight.
Next up for the Tigers is a date with Woodland to open the Bartow County Championships on Friday at Hamilton Crossing.