CONRAD - Before sophomore pitcher Mariah Fritz stepped into the circle Wednesday, the Mustang bats had spotted her a four-run lead.
That was more than enough run support for Fritz and East Marshall as the Class 3A No. 6 Mustangs got a grand slam from sophomore Taylor Fricke and a three-run homer from senior Katie Roseland during an 8-1 win over Class 2A No. 8 BCLUW.
"This is a tough place to play, and our success up here has not been good," East Marshall coach Jary Hoskey said. "We hit the ball hard tonight. Hopefully we are growing up. We are starting to move the ball now in our eighth game."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
East Marshall sophomore Mariah Fritz allowed one run and five hits against Class 2A No. 8-ranked BCLUW on Wednesday in Conrad. The Class 3A No. 6 Mustangs earned the 8-1 win over BCLUW and Fritz was the winning pitcher in the circle.
The Mustangs finished with 17 hits and stranded nine runners on base but did not commit an error in the field for the NICL West Division win.
Fricke's grand slam came with no outs in the first inning. Roseland's three-run bomb put the game away in the fourth for the Mustangs (7-1, 2-1).
"I was hoping Taylor would get a fly ball or something that would put us up 1-0 against a very good pitcher," Hoskey said. "She ran into one and that put us up big. That was huge at the beginning."
David Lee Classic
4 p.m. - BCLUW vs. Gladbrook-Reinbeck
5:45 p.m. - AGWSR vs. Sumner-Fredericksburg
7:30 p.m. - BCLUW vs. Marshalltown
1 p.m. - BCLUW vs. Sumner-Fredericksburg; Marshalltown vs. Charles City
2:45 p.m. - Gladbrook-Reinbeck vs. Sumner-Fredericksburg; Marshalltown vs. AGWSR
4:30 p.m. - BCLUW vs. Charles City; AGWSR vs. Gladbrook-Reinbeck
East Marshall Tournament
At Le Grand
9 a.m. - West Marshall vs. Aplington-Parkersburg; BGM vs. Grinnell
10:45 a.m. - East Marshall vs. Albia; West Marshall vs. Marion
12:30 p.m. - BGM vs. Marion; Aplington-Parkersburg vs. Grinnell
2:15 p.m. - East Marshall vs. Colo-NESCO; West Marshall vs. Albia
4 p.m. - East Marshall vs. Marion; Colo-NESCO vs. Albia
Roseland led Class 3A last year with 14 home runs but had been struggling early this season at the plate. That changed in the fourth inning as she laced a Nicolette Simpson pitch over the fence in right-center field. That made it 7-1 and the Mustangs added another run in the sixth for good measure.
"I have been struggling early this year," said Roseland, who had two hits and scored two runs in the victory. "I dialed in, saw my pitch and turned on it. I got a good one finally."
The two homers were enough support for Fritz, who kept the Comets off balance all night. She allowed one earned run on five hits and fanned five while walking just two.
"We just didn't have the sticks to compete with them," BCLUW coach Casey Moberly said. "She wasn't doing anything that our girls couldn't adjust to. We just didn't have it tonight. Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don't."
The homers were not all of East Marshall's offense. Ashley Allen went 3-for-4 with a double and Callie Roseland also had two hits. Paige Miller was 1-for-3 and scored three runs.
The Mustangs and Comets split last season's two meetings on their way to 13-1 campaigns in the NICL West Division. But it had been several years since East Marshall traveled to Conrad and beat the Comets on their home field.
"We wanted this one after the loss to AGWSR on Monday," Roseland said. "We knew we don't play well here but getting those early runs helped us out. We came in here with a lot of confidence, and we knew we could do it."
Fricke's grand slam in the first inning would have been enough for the win. Fritz reached on an error to start the inning and then Miller and Roseland added singles to load the bases. Fricke cleared the bags with no outs on a shot that cleared the fence in left-center field.
"It was a tough start, but it was just a great hit," Moberly said. "She took a pretty good pitch from Nicolette and just hit it well. I don't think we let it get us down though. We just didn't hit the ball like we are capable."
Roseland, the starting catcher, said Fritz had plenty of success because she got ahead in the count.
"She threw really well," said Roseland, who was a first-team all-stater last season. "She hit her spots well and was ahead in the count most of the night. When she does that, she can use the rise ball, drop ball or curve ball and make them hit her pitch."
The Comets (4-2, 1-1) struggled to hit Fritz's pitches most of the night. Kendall Scurr did go 3-for-3 at the dish, while Kayla Benjamin and Makayla Van Cleave had the other two hits.
Scurr scored the Comets' only run in the first inning as she singled and then stole second. She came around to score on Benjamin's RBI single.
The Mustangs led Class 3A in home runs last year. But if there is a secret, East Marshall and Hoskey are not willing to share. "We do an awful lot of hitting," Hoskey said. "I throw live to them every night. We just have good athletes and they are stroking the ball right now." ... Simpson took the loss in the circle for the Comets, allowing 17 hits and six earned runs in seven innings. The Comets also committed five errors in the field. ... Fritz retired the side in order in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. ... East Marshall suffered its only loss Monday in a 6-3 defeat to Class 2A No. 10 AGWSR. ... The Comets other loss came against Class 5A No. 7 Ankeny. ... BCLUW travels to South Hardin for another NICL contest tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 8 p.m. The Comets also host the BCLUW David Lee Softball Classic Friday and Saturday in Conrad. ... East Marshall hosts West Marshall at 8 p.m. Friday and then hosts its annual tourney in Le Grand beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.