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Mull mows down Mohawks; ’Cats win

Marshalltown softball snaps seven-game losing streak to start season; settles for split with Mason City

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown junior pitcher Avery Mull beams as she runs off the field after striking out the final Mason City batter to seal the Bobcats’ 6-1 victory in the first game of Wednesday’s CIML Iowa Conference doubleheader at MHS. Mull struck out six in a two-hitter and had four hits of her own to help the Bobcats clinch their first win of the season.

The opportunities have been so few or far between that the Marshalltown High School softball team can’t waste them when the arise. That chance hung in the balance in the first game of Wednesday’s CIML Iowa Conference doubleheader with Mason City, and the Bobcats were opportunistic enough to capitalize.

Marshalltown (1-8, 1-5) broke a 1-all tie in the bottom of the fifth inning of the opening game and eventually ran away with its first win of the season, a 6-1 triumph that snapped a seven-game losing streak to start the summer.

Mason City (2-11, 1-5), whose own losing streak slipped to nine games, got back on track with a decisive 11-0, six-inning victory in the nightcap.

“I think it’s a fine line when you’re playing — you want to feel good when you’re coming off your victory but then you’ve got to refocus and come out for your second game,” said MHS head coach Jim Palmer. “I think there was probably a little bit of relaxation on our part in the second game.”

The Bobcats almost missed their opportunity in the first game, but a proper ruling left the door open long enough for them to slip through. Locked in a 1-all tie in the bottom of the fifth, Avery Mull lined a one-out single up the middle to start Marshalltown in motion.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown eighth-grader Kennedy Feldman makes a running catch in left field during the first game of Wednesday’s softball doubleheader against Mason City.

Her courtesy runner Olivia Holmgren was called out for leaving first base before Mason City pitcher Adyson Evans released the ball, and did so on what would have been a third-strike offering to Kailee Pollard.

According to high school rules, the play was immediately ruled dead and the pitch didn’t count, prolonging Pollard’s at-bat long enough for her to slap a single to left. Her pinch-runner Ava Kusserow promptly stole second base and took third on the overthrow, and she scored when Ava Augustine’s infield pop-up was ruled fair after Evans and her catcher Lainna Duncan collided trying to catch it.

The Bobcats carried the momentum into the sixth and scored four more times. Kennedy Feldman led off with a single and Reagan Ford followed with her own hit one out later. Marshalltown leadoff batter Sophie Younkin thumped a double to the gap in left that glanced off the center fielder’s glove, driving in both runners, and Younkin later scored on a wild pitch.

After another Mull single, Holmgren stole second base in her place and took third during Pollard’s walk. Augustine reached on a fielder’s choice that cut Holmgren down at home plate, but Kusserow scored again when Laney Danielson reached on a dropped third strike.

It was all plenty of run support for Mull, who finished 4-for-4 at the plate while spinning a two-hitter from the pitcher’s circle, Mull allowed only two singles and one unearned run while walking five and striking out six.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Younkin and Feldman both contributed two of Marshalltown’s 11 hits off Evans, who only allowed two earned runs on 11 hits and one walk while striking out 11 in a losing cause.

“We competed the entire time, we never stopped,” Palmer said. “We got up 1-0, let them back in the game and we just kept at it. Our pitching was going well, the defense was sharp, Mason City made a couple mistakes and we took advantage and scored some runs.”

The Mohawks were more effective at the plate in game two, touching up Pollard for 11 hits and seven earned runs in a run rule-shortened triumph. Shaye Theobald led off the fifth with a solo home run for one of her three hits, and Mason City ran away with the second game.

Younkin went 2-for-3 with a double at the top of the Bobcats’ batting order to account for the team’s only hits against Gwen Fiser and Evans. Evans relieved Fiser to help her out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, and Mason City’s 3-0 lead doubled in its next at-bat. Fiser returned to the circle with a comfortable six-run advantage and remained in the game for the final three frames, allowing just two hits and four walks over a total of 5 1/3 innings. She struck out two.

Pollard walked two and struck out two in the loss.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

The Bobcats are back in action at BCLUW’s Dave Lee Classic on Friday night, facing the host Comets at 7 p.m. in Conrad.

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