Tigers split home opener with NIACC

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown Community College catcher Saydee Terrell, left, awaits the ball at home plate for the force-out of NIACC’s Katie Chapman during the second game of the doubleheader between the Tigers and Trojans on Thursday in Marshalltown.

Thursday’s home doubleheader for the Marshalltown Community College softball team against NIACC ran the gauntlet of emotions.

In game one, the Tigers earned their first home win of the year with a 13-5 shellacking of the Trojans in five innings, while in game two NIACC returned the favor with a 16-4 trouncing of MCC in six innings.

The stats from each game fluctuated as much as the score, as the Tigers had a whopping 17 hits in the first game but still managed eight hits in the game-two loss. Marshalltown head coach Garland Shirley said his bats weren’t the issue in game two.

“Second game we were hitting too, we had several balls that were hit on a rope, unfortunately they were hit right to somebody,” Shirley said. “We didn’t make a lot of mistakes defensively, where we struggled at was on the mound.”

Freshman Katelyn Cantu toed the mound in game one and was effective for the Tigers (7-8), allowing only three earned runs off 10 hits in five innings of play. The 13-5 victory in the first game honestly could have been even more lopsided if it weren’t for NIACC (9-13) plating four batters in the second inning. Shirley said it wasn’t the fault of his team for them putting up so many in the frame, the Trojans just swung the bat well.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown Community College second baseman Anika Matsumoto (5) stretches to snag a ball thrown for a force out of NIACC’s Hailee Ausenhus during the first game of the Tigers home doubleheader with the Trojans.

“This is a game where people hit the ball, so when they were hitting we needed to hit with them and we did that,” Shirley said.

After the top of the second, Cantu only allowed one more run off a Kaci Sherwood dinger to lead off the third. Sherwood was the main offensive force for the Trojans, finishing the day with a homerun in both games and going a combined 4-for-7.

Sophomore Taylor Tague got the start in game two and she wasn’t as effective, going all six innings and allowing 16 earned runs off 15 hits.

Shirley said he thought about switching out Tague in the second game, but he ultimately decided against it.

“I had an opportunity to change pitchers but to be honest with you it’s too early in the season to do that too often,” he said. “This was a good situation for our other pitcher to grow, she’s a good pitcher and she will get it figured out. And defensively there were a couple of opportunities where we could have helped her out but we didn’t come through.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown Community College pitcher Katelyn Cantu whips a pitch toward home plate in the first game of a home doubleheader against NIACC on Thursday.

Cantu was the main option Shirley had to replace Tague in the second game, though he also sent Saydee Terrell into the bullpen to warm up, but in the end he said Cantu will get plenty of other opportunities to see time on the mound.

“We have a long season, in fact we play tomorrow and we turn around and play Sunday if the weather holds out,” he said. “She has a lot of games ahead of her but there is no point in getting her worn out.”

On the offensive end, MCC got production from many places in its lineup, most notably the top of the order as Chasity Jordan started the first game with a lead-off homer and Shaena Robinson, who was recently crowned ICCAC Athlete of the Week, hit a home run in the two-hole to start the second game.

Robinson went 3-for-4 in game two with two runs and an RBI while adding another two hits and two runs in the first game, and Shirley said though he knows he can rely on the top of his lineup he was most encouraged with how the back-end showed on Thursday.

“We also have our 8-9 hitters and they come through well so I don’t feel like we really have a dead spot yet,” Shirley said. “We have had some hitters that have struggled throughout our lineup but I have never stood in the third base coaches box and thought we don’t have an opportunity. So that’s a good feeling.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Anika Matsumoto batted ninth in both games for MCC and went 3-for-3 with three RBIs in the first game while going 1-for-2 with a walk in the second.

It’s still relatively early in the season, especially considering these were only the third and fourth home games of the year, so Shirley said he is more focused on how his team is developing right now than ticking the win column, though he doesn’t mind that either.

“If we win a game right now, fantastic, but winning a game right now doesn’t do anything for us but boost our ego,” he said. “If we’re not growing as a team so we are in the right position towards the end of the season, that’s pointless. But I feel like we are doing that so I am ok.”

MCC will attempt to continue its growth when it takes on Ellsworth today in a home doubleheader starting at noon, weather permitting.

At Marshalltown

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Game 1

Marshalltown CC 13, NIACC 5, 5 innings

NIACC 041 00 — 5 10 2

MCC 251 41 — 13 17 3

Kaci Sherwood, Alyssa Laxson and Morgan Thesing-Ritter; Katelyn Cantu and Saydee Terrell. WP–Cantu. LP–Sherwood. 2B–NIACC: Laxson; MCC: Shaena Robinson, Kylie Swan, AnnaMarie Armstrong, Cantu, Anika Matsumoto. HR–NIACC: Sherwood (6); MCC: Chasity Jordan (1). LOB–NIACC 5, MCC 5.

Game 2

NIACC 16, Marshalltown CC 4, 6 innings

NIACC 124 045 — 16 15 1

MCC 103 000 — 4 8 1

Courtney Johannes and Thiesing-Ritter; Taylor Tague and Saydee Terrell, Kaylee Hanks (3). WP–Johannes. LP–Tague. 2B–NIACC: Hailee Ausenhus, Laxson, Johannes, Kaitlyn Carlson; MCC: Hubert. 3B–NIACC: Laxson, Johannes, Carlson. HR–NIACC: Sherwood (7), Johannes (3); MCC: Robinson (9). LOB–NIACC 3, MCC 7.