Bobcats pickled by Story County foes
CONRAD — The Marshalltown High School softball team used its second day of games at the Dave Lee Classic to try and gain more experience for its less-than-veteran roster.
The hard part about learning new lessons is that it’s often done the hard way.
The Bobcats suffered a pair of run rule-shortened losses on Saturday in Conrad, falling to CIML Iowa Conference foe Ames and its neighbor to the north in Gilbert. Marshalltown (2-10) managed just six hits on the day, the defense committed at least three errors in each loss, and three baserunners were thrown out in both games.
Whether or not the Bobcats will benefit from the added experience remains to be seen, but it will be hard to make a proper judgment with this week’s schedule. Marshalltown goes back out on the road to face Class 5A No. 13 Ankeny on Monday and No. 2 Fort Dodge on Wednesday.
“I think some of my goals were to see us compete through the whole games and really learn more about our game,” said MHS head coach Jim Palmer. “We have a makeup of young but experienced players, but then young and inexperienced players, so it was an opportunity for us to work and get better at the knowledge of the game.”
The opportunities to learn were there for Marshalltown, starting with Saturday’s opener against Ames (10-4). The Little Cyclones and Bobcats both put eighth-graders in the pitcher’s circle, but Ames’ Josie Theilen had more success than Marshalltown’s Kennedy Feldman. Fellow eighth-grader Karsyn Price eventually relieved Feldman in the circle, but only long enough to surrender the final four runs Ames needed to invoke the mercy rule.
Feldman surrendered five hits and eight runs (five earned) over her three innings, walking three, hitting one batter and striking out one. Ames sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first, scoring seven times to take control. Price faced four batters, all of which reached safely, including a game-ending three-run home run by Ireland Buss that clanged off the foul pole in left field.
“I’m so happy with my two young pitchers,” Palmer said. “They’ve both been struggling a little bit at the JV and freshman level and we threw them into a situation today in our first game against a conference foe and I thought they both pitched outstanding. We knew there were going to be some hits in there, but they also did their job and created some outs that we probably should have had, so I’m extremely happy with my young pitchers. That’s nerve-wracking for a couple of girls that are in eighth grade to come in and play at a varsity level.”
The Bobcat defense made three errors behind Feldman and another behind Price, leading to four unearned runs. It didn’t make enough of a difference, however, as Marshalltown mustered only one hit against Theilen.
Emma McWherter reached safely on a two-out single in the top of the second and advanced all the way to third on wild pitches, but she was left stranded as Ava Kusserow was tagged out trying to take second base on her walk with leadoff batter Sophie Younkin coming to the plate.
That would be the Bobcats’ last scoring chance against Theilen, who allowed two walks and two hit batsmen while striking out eight.
Buss finished 3-for-3 with a double, a dinger and five RBIs in all to lead the Little Cyclones.
Gilbert proved just as aggressive with the bat in its hand against Marshalltown, as the Tigers batted around in each of the first two innings of its eventual 12-1, five-inning triumph over the Bobcats in their final game of the tournament.
The Tigers (8-7) took a 9-0 lead before Marshalltown got on the board with its only run of the day arriving in the top of the third. Younkin led off with a double against Gilbert eighth-grader Emma Latterrell, Avery Mull reached on an error, and Feldman’s swinging bunt loaded the bases. Younkin scored on a wild pitch, but Gilbert got out of the jam when Autumn Finch’s bunt was popped up. Latterell made the catch and fired to third base to double up Mull and end the inning.
“There were a lot of situations today and I think some players made some great decisions in some opportunities,” Palmer said. “We got to roll a double play — you don’t see that a whole lot — but we still made some of those errors from some of our older, inexperienced players not catching some of the fly balls we should have caught, but we’ve just got to keep working hard at it and we’ve got to be in the mental side of the game in order for us to have more of those successes.”
One of the highlights to Marshalltown’s day was on defense, despite it coming during Gilbert’s four-run first. A baserunning blunder by the Tigers put MHS sophomore second baseman Reagan Ford in a position to make a play and she did, tagging out Gilbert’s Jordyn Pike after she overran second base.
Halli Nissen broke for home during the pursuit, and Ford tried to throw home to complete a double play. The throw was errant but the umpires eventually ruled that Ford was interfered with, yielding a double play.
The Bobcats turned two to end Gilbert’s five-run second as Emma Mostek’s grounder was gloved by Younkin at third, who touched the base for a forceout and fired across the diamond in time to retire Mostek.
Those double plays were the signs of life Palmer liked seeing in spite of the long, hard day on the diamond.
“When we’re into the game, and it was prevalent when we played Centennial, we were mentally into the game and I think it’s important that each and every play we have to know the situation and be ready to make those plays,” he said.
Mull was tagged by the Tigers for 12 hits and nine earned runs over four innings. She walked seven, hit a batter, and struck out three. Pike was 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs, while leadoff batter Nessa Johnson finished 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored.
Younkin had two of Marshalltown’s five hits in the game, including a double, and scored the only run. Laney Danielson, Mull and Feldman had the Bobcats’ only other singles against Lattrell, who struck out five and walked two.
2021 Dave Lee Classic
Gilbert 12, Sumner-Fredericksburg 4
Cedar Falls 5, Ames 1
Marshalltown 7, BCLUW 4, 8 innings
South Hardin 4, Central DeWitt 2
Sumner-Fredericksburg 4, BCLUW 2
South Hardin 4, Cedar Falls 2
Ames 12, Marshalltown 0, 4 innings
Central DeWitt 11, Gilbert 7
Cedar Falls 11, BCLUW 1, 5 innings
South Hardin 10, Sumner-Fredericksburg 0
Gilbert 12, Marshalltown 1, 5 innings
Ames 3, Central DeWitt 2