Sophomore Day didn't end with a victory but Tuesday's doubleheader was far from lost.
Twice giving NJCAA Division II No. 3-ranked Kirkwood all it could handle, the Marshalltown Community College softball team left a lasting impression in the final home game of the season.
The Eagles scraped together just enough offense to win the first game 2-0, before rallying for a 5-2 victory in the nightcap of an ICCAC D-II double feature.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
Marshalltown CC’s Brooke Dunkin throws out a Kirkwood batter on a bunt attempt in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at home. MCC third baseman Erica White backs up on the play and was one of five Tigers honored on Sophomore Day.
Though the Tigers came up short in both, it was a much improved outing from three weeks ago where Kirkwood (38-3, 18-0) had swept MCC 10-0 in five innings and 5-0 in Cedar Rapids.
"The girls played really well all the way around and we figured out some things as we went through," MCC coach Jeff Lamb said. "We had much better at-bats this time around. We could have done some things better, but our defense was there and our pitching was there."
Taylor Vaske turned in a strong performance from the circle in the opener giving up just two earned runs on five hits in a complete game effort. The Marshalltown native, one of five sophomores recognized between games, fanned five batters and walked two.
Amber Logemann was overpowering for the Eagles retiring nine batters on strikes, while giving up just four hits and no walks in a seven inning shutout.
Leah Duffe opened the game with a solo shot, before Haylee Krack added an insurance run off a single by Lauren Smith in the fourth.
Mackenzie Gott paced the Tigers (17-19-1, 12-10) at the plate finishing 2-of-3 with a double and was the lone MCC player to reach scoring position, while Hailee Beals and Jacklyn Bear each chipped in a hit.
Kristen Winter led Kirkwood with two hits, while Duffe, Krack and Smith each had a knock.
Despite losing an early lead and falling behind in the third inning of the second game, the fourth frame proved to be the difference. The Tigers seemed to have a 1-2-3 inning in hand though a pair of controversial calls kept things alive for the Eagles.
The first play in question came at on a steal attempt at second where Brooke Dunkin's throw appeared to be on time, though Kadarenna Sales was ruled safe on the tag by Marisa Basham. Moments later Kristen Campbell fouled off a pitch that grazed her hand, but was ruled hit by the pitch. Shelby Crist loaded the bases on a fielder's choice, before Duffe doubled to left field driving home Sales and Campbell, while Crist was thrown out at the plate.
"We caught a couple bad breaks, but played through it and did well," Lamb said. "We were still in the game, we just needed to be closer in the game."
While the Tigers still had several more opportunities to make up the deficit, the insurance runs changed the feel of the game and provided enough buffer for the Eagles to settle down.
"It gave them a little bit of an area to relax," Lamb said of Kirkwood's demeanor after the fourth inning. "They were pretty tense for a little while and it's good to have a team like that concerned. I wouldn't say they were worried, but we put a little more pressure on them."
Alexis Farren applied some more pressure in the sixth by driving in Erica White to trim the deficit to 4-2, though Gott was later caught in a rundown at the plate.
Crist pushed the margin back to three on a sac fly from Krack in the seventh. Emmeline Huffaker started the Tigers' last at bat with a single, before Logemann struck out the next three batters to seal it. Logemann threw the final inning in relief and allowed just one hit, while Sam Belz earned the win giving up two earned runs on five hits and two walks. Belz fanned five batters over six innings.
Stacy Roggentien took the loss allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits over seven innings. The sophomore struck out five batters and walked two as the Tigers out hit the Eagles 6-5.
The Tigers led briefly in the first when Sarah Wilson's RBI single plated Basham, though Krack evened it up in the second scoring off an error. In the third, Campbell put the Eagles on top for good with a towering solo shot en route to Kirkwood's 31st straight win.
Though Wednesday's result dropped the Tigers to fourth in the conference standings, the pair of close contests provided another confidence boost as they approach the final stretch of the season.
"We can beat anybody," MCC coach Jeff Lamb said of his squad, which took one of two against then-No. 8 ranked DMACC at home Monday. "That's one of the toughest teams in our conference. Our girls just always need to go out and understand that."
The Tigers face Iowa Lakes on the road today in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m.
Sophomores Marisa Basham, Jacklyn Bear, Stacy Roggentien, Taylor Vaske and Erica White were recognized between games. MCC coach Jeff Lamb also received a plaque for his 100th win after reaching the milestone earlier this season. ... Lamb spoke highly of his sophomore group, saying, "They did an outstanding job the whole way through. Some of them saw more playing time, but they've all done a lot for us."