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Ames erupts late to burn Bobcats

Little Cyclones utilize 10- and 9-run innings to fend off Marshalltown softball twice

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown first baseman Autumn Finch, left, flips the ball to Kailee Pollard (not pictured) in hopes of retiring Ames baserunner Olivia Smalley during the second game of Monday’s CIML Iowa Conference doubleheader. The ball was ruled foul on the play.

The Marshalltown softball team ran neck-and-neck with CIML Iowa Conference rival Ames for the first four innings in both games of Monday’s doubleheader.

The finish line was just too far away for the Bobcats.

The visiting Little Cyclones scored 10 runs in the fifth inning of the first game and nine runs in the sixth inning of the nightcap, finishing off wins of 16-3 and 13-5 at the MHS diamond.

The opener didn’t make it to the end of regulation as Ames (15-11, 7-5) achieved the run rule-shortened victory thanks to three home runs, including a pair of round-trippers in its 10-run eruption. Katie Riesselman hit a two-run homer and Ellie Lynch added a grand slam as a part of the Little Cyclones’ fifth-inning slugfest that included eight hits, one walk and a pair of Bobcat errors.

Ames didn’t need the big blast to complete the sweep by piling up 13 hits in the second game, sending 13 batters to the plate in its nine-run sixth that featured seven hits, consecutive hit batsmen and another Marshalltown miscue.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - MHS left fielder Kennedy Feldman, left, prepares to make a throw to second baseman Kailee Pollard during the second game of Monday’s softball doubleheader against Ames.

Contending with a team that had beaten the Bobcats by a combined 26-3 in three previous meetings this season helped MHS head coach Jim Palmer keep Monday’s doubleheader defeats in perspective, to a certain point anyway.

“I think overall I’m not disappointed with how we did it, I would just like to see us finish a little stronger,” he said. “When we got into that mix we need to communicate better on the field. When (Ames) had bases loaded and we didn’t cover a few bags right, we had back-to-back plays there where we didn’t make an out and we should have. It’s a young team that was in there on the infield with some of that so we’ll learn, we’ll get better.”

In the first game, the Bobcats fell behind 6-0 after two and a half innings before scratching back with three runs over their next two at-bats. Reagan Ford and Avery Mull both reached on walks in the bottom of the third before scoring on back-to-back singles by Kailee Pollard and Ava Augustine. Autumn Finch got on via error to lead off the fourth and later scored on Ford’s groundout to second to make it a 6-3 deficit for the Bobcats.

But the Little Cyclones got their bats going against Augustine in the top of the fifth, going deep twice during their 10-run tally.

Augustine finished having allowed 10 earned runs on 13 hits over five innings, walking two while striking out five. Ames starter Alexa Kopaska struck out five and walked three for the win, allowing two earned runs on four hits — all singles.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Pollard, Augustine, Finch and Khloe Shipley accounted for the Bobcats’ offense in game one.

In the nightcap, Marshalltown struck first with four runs in the bottom of the first. Avery Mull singled, Pollard walked, Augustine was plunked and Emma McWherter drove in the icebreaking run with her sacrifice fly to center field. Finch followed with a two-out walk and Kennedy Feldman was hit by a pitch to bring in another score.

Ford followed with a two-run single to right to make it 4-0, and Shipley added a single to load the bases again, but Ames hurler Josie Theilen escaped further damage. The Little Cyclones countered with their own four-spot in the top of the second, helped along by four Marshalltown errors in the inning.

Mull and Theilen held their opponents in check for the next three innings, but Ames broke free in the top of the sixth. The first five batters reached base, and two outs later another streak of five-straight Little Cyclones got on. Ames sent 13 to the plate and scored nine times to put the second game on ice.

“Just like we started the first game, I think we started the second game with some fire in our bellies and we were getting after it and we were competing with most of our pitches and most of our defensive plays,” Palmer said. “Then a few things creep in here and there and just got away from us.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“As pitchers we always have to know they’re going to get ahold of a good pitch now and then. We missed our spots a couple of times and they took advantage of it, and that’s going to happen whether that’s on the pitcher or the coach that called the pitch.”

Mull allowed 13 hits but just five earned runs in the defeat, walking one and hitting two while striking out eight. Theilen walked six, hit three more and struck out five in the win, allowing just six singles. The Bobcats stranded 12 on base.

Ford led the MHS offense, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Sophie Younkin, Mull, Feldman and Shipley each added one hit for the Bobcats.

Marshalltown’s 10-game week takes its only hiatus on Tuesday. The Bobcats are back in action with a road doubleheader Wednesday at Class 5A No. 11 Ankeny Centennial, and MHS returns home Thursday to host No. 4 Waukee. The Bobcat Classic is set for Friday and Saturday.

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