South Tama's softball squad found the recipe for success - tough defense and take advantage of scoring opportunities - at Friday's home game.
The Trojans allowed South Hardin runners on second and third base on multiple occasions Friday and shut down the Tigers three times. The Trojans also answered the Tigers' opening run, took the lead and gave themselves a cushion with another run in the sixth inning.
The hometown Trojans (3-11) beat the Tigers (1-4) by a score of 4-2.
South Tama's Riley Craun looks toward third base after tagging out a sliding South Hardin runner at home plate. South Tama won the game 4-2.
"(South Hardin) had their opportunities," head coach Chelsea Ahrens said. "They had runners at second and third a couple of times and we were able to shut the door on them. We did make two mistakes giving them those two runs. That's something that's kind of been our poison all year. We didn't have more than one error in an inning. We had an error and we got out of it. I thought Jenn (Maus) did a nice job of getting us out of trouble with some key strike outs. This was probably the best she's pitched all year."
South Tama finished the contest with a six-pitch, three-out seventh inning. Two ground-ball outs started the top of the inning. The third batter hit a ball deep into right field, but Tori Appelgate tracked it down and made an incredible leaping catch over her head, ending the game.
"We made some great plays in the outfield," Ahrens said. "Tori made a great play to end the game in right field. We also made some good plays in the infield. Now, we just have to put it all together."
Sarah Holtz gave the Trojans a slightly larger cushion in the sixth inning. STC led by one run heading into the bottom of the sixth. The senior Holtz leads off with a shot to deep center field. She turned it into a double, which narrowly beat the tag. The speedy Belle Tyynismaa came in to run for Holtz. Tyynismaa scored on a suicide squeeze when Dani Stubbs hit a ground ball to third base.
"That was great," Ahrens said. "We talked about how we need insurance runs and she leads off the inning with a double. It was great and we got Belle home, as she ran for Sarah."
South Hardin closed the gap to one run in the fifth inning. The Tigers' leadoff batter hit a double. The runner scored three batters later on a South Tama throwing error. That run came a half inning after the Trojans took a 3-1 lead.
Stubbs started the bottom of the fourth inning with a single. Two outs later, Riley Craun hammered a ball into short center field that she turned into an RBI single, scoring Stubbs.
"I also thought we did a good job of executing on offense," Ahrens said. "We executed a suicide squeeze for the first time ever. That was good to get that run."
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of third inning, STC responded at the plate. Craun started the inning with a double to right-center field. Appelgate followed her with an RBI single, after Craun stole third base. Two outs later, Hailee Weiss hit Appelgate home with an RBI single.
"We got some key runs when we needed them," Ahrens said. "That's something that we don't always have the luxury of having."
The Trojans battled runners on base during the first six innings. South Hardin led the game off with a double. She moved to third with a single from the second batter. However, Jenn Maus struck out the next batter. The fourth batter grounded out, before the last batter also struck out. South Hardin left 10 batters on base during the game.
"We got key strike outs or get the batter to pop up," Ahrens said. "Jenn did a nice job of mixing up her pitches. I thought she did a great job pitching."
Last Thursday, the Trojans played at Benton Community an lost 13-1. While it was a tough loss, Ahrens used it as a learning experience.
"That's a good team we played," Ahrens said. "I keep telling the girls that softball is a grind, because you have to come to ball park every day and forget about what happened the night before. They did a great job of that tonight. You could tell they were focused and ready to play. They knew this was a team they could beat."
South Tama play West Marshall at home on Tuesday. The Trojans will then play at Grinnell on Thursday and at Grundy Center on Friday.