A veteran-laden team that is one of the nation's elite isn't one you want to face when you need to get the kinks out.
Unfortunately that is what Marshalltown Community College had on its plate for its softball home opener Thursday.
Iowa Lakes - ranked second in the country in Division II - took two from the Tigers, 8-2 and 8-0 in six innings, in what was also the first doubleheader in Iowa Community College Athletic Conference play.
T-R PHOTO BY MARK PAWLAK
Katie Clement’s Marshalltown Community College teammates greet her at home plate after her two-run home run in the first game of Thursday’s conference doubleheader against Iowa Lakes. The two-run round-tripper plated Jenna Baker and accounted for MCC’s only runs on the day.
The weather conditions and travel schedule have kept Marshalltown (5-5, 0-2) from having much field time this season and that showed against a Laker squad that improved to 25-2 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
First-year MCC head coach Jeff Lamb said his team has been on its home diamond just three times this season. The Tigers went 5-3 during their trip to Florida last week, but came in shorthanded in experience by comparison as Iowa Lakes has played three times as many games as MCC has.
"They are doing a really good job for where we're at right now," Lamb said of his team.
Iowa Lakes took advantage of a seven-run first inning to take the opener 8-2. The finale saw the Lakers put out a potentially huge MCC rally and counter with two-out scoring of their own to win 8-0.
"Take out a couple innings both games and I think it's completely different ball games," Lamb said.
Seven runs on six hits - aided by three Marshalltown errors - in the top of the first in game one put the Lakers out to a quick start.
Tiger starting pitcher Kendra Markle (the lone starter back from last year) held Iowa Lakes to one run the rest of the way.
Marshalltown struck for two runs in the third on Katie Clement's home run to left field.
"The first game, if we take care of that first out to start the game and make a couple plays in there, things are different," Lamb said. "Then Katie hits that ball later in the game and we've got a 2-2 game and we maybe could have pulled it out. Some of those things being young with all the freshmen are going to happen, they're going to make some mistakes."
Sara Samuelson, Jenna Baker and Jessica Meyer also had hits for the Tigers in game one.
Iowa Lakes pushed across five runs with two outs in the fourth to change game two. All-American first baseman Stephanie Ochoa had the key blow, a two-run double. Ochoa also had a two-run double in the sixth inning.
Marshalltown pitcher Ashley Allen had allowed one run on two hits through 3 2/3 innings, but a two-out walk got a runner on base for the Lakers and opened the gates.
Designated hitter Rebecca Harvey led the Tiger bats with a single and double to account for two of the team's three hits.
Marshalltown loaded the bases in the second with no one out with singles by Markle and Harvey followed by an Iowa Lakes error. Yet Laker pitcher Ashley Meyer recorded two strikeouts and a groundout to keep the Tigers scoreless.
Practice opportunities will have to come in the form of games in the upcoming days as well. Starting Saturday, the Tigers play eight of the upcoming nine days.
Marshalltown continues its homestand this weekend with a pair of key early-season conference doubleheaders as Ellsworth comes to town Saturday at 1 p.m. and NIACC is Sunday's opponent at 3 p.m.