Mustangs slip past No. 9 AGWSR

East Marshall corrals Cougars in thriller, 4-3

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - East Marshall courtesy runner Clare Veren (13) slides safely across home plate as the ball returns to AGWSR pitcher Rachel Sicard, left, during the bottom of the first inning of Thursday’s NICL West Division showdown in Le Grand. East Marshall outlasted the Class 1A No. 9 Cougars, winning 4-3.

LE GRAND — The youth movement at East Marshall softball is picking up steam faster than head coach Jary Hoskey hoped before the condensed 2020 season began. Helped by timely hitting and another strong pitching performance from senior Kodie Hoskey, the Mustangs survived a tough battle with Class 1A No. 9 AGWSR (5-2) 4-3 Thursday night.

The 6-1 Mustangs have been in a difficult stretch of games, traveling to Bondurant-Farrar Monday evening and falling 9-0 to the Class 4A Bluejays before battling for a 1-0 win in eight innings over Grundy Center on the road. A game against the ranked Cougars wasn’t any easier, despite East Marshall taking a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Kennedy Wheater scored on a wild pitch for the Mustangs to open the scoring, but the first two innings were defined by pitching and defense.

Jary said the team had to deal with solid pitching from AGWSR’s Rachel Sicard.

“I’d like to see more aggression at the plate,” Jary said. “But, ya know, [Sicard] threw pretty well in the middle innings.”

The third inning brought more runs for East Marshall, with an error allowing Clare Veren and Catelyn Fisher to score and push it to 3-0. A fourth-inning home run off Kodie from Sicard got them back into the game. It was around this time East Marshall’s hitting took another lull. Jary said the team didn’t show the level of aggression with the lead he was hoping for, even though it worked out at the end of the night.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - East Marshall’s Emma Pfantz (7) slaps a leadoff single to start the third inning against AGWSR in Thursday’s NICL West Division softball game in Le Grand.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Cougars seized momentum. AGWSR worked the bases loaded with no outs — then a Taylor Sperfslage single brought in Rachel Sicard and Ali Gerbracht to tie the game up at 3-3. Facing runners on second and third with no outs, the Mustangs got their way out of the inning.

“It’s really neat to see those kids battle back and have some fun,” Jary said. “Right now we’re 6-1. If you’d have told me that at the beginning of the season that we’d be 6-1 after seven games, I wouldn’t believe you.”

Callyn Curphy hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the sixth and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Up stepped to the plate eighth-grader Rayne McIlrath, who hit a double to deep center field on a full count to bring home the go-ahead run (pinch-runner Ellie Hull).

The inning sputtered out after that, but Kodie and the East Marshall defense held on for the win, tagging out Gerbracht at third base to end the game. Kodie finished with seven strikeouts and gave up three earned runs on seven hits and two walks. Curphy led the Mustangs with two hits — Emma Pfantz, McIlrath, Fisher and Raegan McIlrath had one apiece.

The Mustangs (weather permitting) head to Don Bosco Friday, with varsity’s first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.




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