West Marshall softball splits final two in Don Bosco Tournament
GILBERTVILLE — It was a tale of two outcomes on Saturday for the West Marshall softball team, as they faced another grueling day of back-to-back games in the Don Bosco Tournament in Gilbertville.
The Class 3A No. 9 Trojans started the day with a rousing 9-1 defeat of New Hampton, but they couldn’t keep that momentum going in the second game as they lost to 2A No. 8 Pella Christian 10-0 in five innings.
West Marshall head coach Todd Verwers said his goal over the last two days was to at least come away with a 2-2 record in the tournament, so his team finishing 3-1 in Gilbertville exceeded his expectations.
“We were hoping for a split coming up here, to win one every day, and we were fortunate enough to win two yesterday so we were already one up coming into today,” Verwers said at the conclusion of the team’s tournament play.
Senior ace Kallie Malloy took the mound in game one for the Trojans, and she flirted dangerously close to a perfect game, giving up only three hits and no earned runs in six innings while striking out 11.
Verwers said the plan all along was to pitch Malloy against New Hampton because they provided an opportunity to improve in a few aspects of her pitching.
“We knew we were only going to throw Kallie one game so we went with the one where we thought we could work on some things so we threw her first,” he said.
Malloy recorded 21 total strikeouts in her two starts of the tournament.
Quite a few of the Trojan batters had success against the Chickasaws in game one; junior Emma Meyer went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI, fellow junior Brooke Snider was perfect at the plate, going 1-for-1 with three walks, two runs scored and an RBI, and sophomore Karisa Blocker went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Though they won by a large margin, the Trojans got off to a slow start against New Hampton, prompting Verwers to have a stern conversation with his team midway through the second inning.
“I don’t like to do that but I knew I could go to that point and it would probably help a little bit,” Verwers said. “It kind of woke them up and we were good the rest of the game.”
Against Pella Christian, freshman Payton Halverson got the start for West Marshall, though after giving up a homerun in the first and second inning Verwers chose to put in eighth-grader Loran Nicholson for relief.
On the opposite mound, Pella Christian’s Emma Schnell pitched a complete game one-hitter, allowing only two base runners and striking out 10 Trojans. Blocker had the only hit of the game for West Marshall in the first inning.
Verwers said his plan against the Eagles was to get some players in who haven’t seen a whole lot of live game action this season, in case he needs to call upon them come postseason time.
“In that second game against Pella Christian we used that as a chance to get some young kids out there so they can get used to the nerves and how to handle stuff like that,” he said. “We had a couple other outfielders out there today, we had to do what is best for us now but also what’s best for us later on down the road.”
That was also Verwers’ reasoning for not pitching Malloy at all in the second game, so he could both give her some rest and see some of his younger pitchers in action. Heading into Monday’s game against BCLUW to decide the winner of the NICL West Division, Verwers said he still doesn’t plan to pitch Malloy so she is fully rested for their first-round playoff game on Wednesday.
“She won’t throw again until Wednesday, we have to be smart and do what’s best for us in the postseason,” Verwers said. “I understand how big that game but we have to do what’s right for us. We will probably decide on what to do later, we have three different options for pitching so we will see how it all goes and see who feels the best. We might split it like we did against Pella Christian today and get through Monday and look forward to playing on Wednesday.”
While they won’t be throwing their ace, Verwers said the Trojans definitely won’t be looking to give away the game and the NICL West title to BCLUW come Monday.
“We will have our best lineup out there, we want to give whoever we throw an opportunity to have some success, and no matter who they throw we are looking for quality at bats,” he said. “See some live pitches rather than just the cage, and that will be good for us heading into Wednesday night. We are going to do what we need to do to get ready with the time that we have and see what happens.”
That game in State Center on Monday is scheduled for a 7:45 p.m. start.