GLADBROOK This year's South Tama County softball team was able to defeat a conference team that last year's roster was unable to do twice.
On Thursday night, the Lady Trojans dominated the game against Gladbrook-Reinbeck. However, it wasn't until they scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning that they felt like the game was completely in control. Those runs gave the Lady Trojans (4-6, 2-3) a 6-1 victory over the Rebels, which was a team that beat STC twice by one run in 2012.
"It was tough losing to them twice last year," STC coach Chelsea Ahrens said. "So it was nice to get a win against these guys. They made it pretty close for a little bit, but we had a nice top of the seventh inning. Those extra runs are always nice to have. It was a nice win."
South Tama junior Hailee Weiss, left, tags out Gladbrook-Reinbeck junior Chelsea Taylor as she attempts to steal second base during the seventh inning Thursday. Weiss also picked off the next Rebels runner, who also tried stealing second. STC senior catcher Riley Craun made both plays possible with accurate throws to Weiss. South Tama won the game 6-1.
"This was a team that we should beat," she added. "This is a team that lost a lot of girls from last year and a team that we can't lose to if we want the things that we want this year. It was nice to not have a letdown."
Leading 3-1 heading into the final inning, South Tama wanted a larger cushion before the hometown Rebels took the plate. With one out, STC's top of the lineup came up to bat and delivered the devastating blow to the Rebels.
Senior Riley Craun started the rally with a single and a stolen base. Junior Tori Appelgate followed her with an RBI single after Craun moved to third base on a wild pitch. Senior Jade Rohach moved Appelgate to third base with a single, before moving to second on a stolen base.
With runners on second and third, junior Samantha Holtz hit a two-run single to score Appelgate and Rohach. Holtz was left on third base during the Lady Trojans' at-bat, but she gave them a 6-1 lead with the final half inning coming up next.
"We talked about keeping the pressure on," Ahrens said. "In the sixth inning, we were overly aggressive and going after the first pitch. The pitcher only threw about seven pitches that inning. We need to make the pitcher work.
"I thought we hit the ball hard in the seventh," she said. "We had a lot of line drives up the middle. Sam did a nice job at the plate tonight. She's been kind of struggling. She has a pretty low average for what she's had here in the past. She got three hits tonight."
The Lady Trojans made quick work of Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the final half inning. The first batter popped out to Holtz on the pitcher's mound. The next two batters each reached first base on an error, but each was thrown out attempting to steal second. Craun, the Lady Trojans catcher, finished the game with a throw to second and junior Hailee Weiss tagged both runners out on two separate plays.
"Riley was kind of our story the last inning," Ahrens said. "I don't know what (G-R) was doing. I was wondering why they were stealing, but maybe it wasn't coming from the coach. She did a nice job of taking that aspect out of their game."
South Tama scored first in the second inning. Holtz kicked off the inning with a single and moved to second and third bases on a wild pitch and a passed ball. She scored later in the inning.
Holtz and Weiss added two more runs in the fourth inning. Once again, Holtz started the inning by reaching first on a single. Weiss followed her up with an RBI single to give STC a 2-0 lead. Weiss later scored on an RBI single from junior Trisha Walz.
"We came up with some timely hitting, too," Ahrens said. "We had some two-out hits. We made contact and put the ball in play tonight. That's something we did last night at Ackley, despite the loss. I thought we did that tonight, as well. We made them make plays and they made some errors."
The Rebels found the scoreboard in the fifth inning. Their leadoff batter reached first base on an error and later advanced to third base on an error. Their No. 9 hitter also reached first on a fielder's choice at first base, scoring the leadoff runner. The next Rebels batter got to first, too, and stole second, but was later thrown out.
"We made it a little interesting," Ahrens said. "I said before the game that if we played defense, we would win the game. We didn't really play defense and we still won, but we did play defense in the outfield. Our outfielders made some great catches and had some great awareness of runners. Jade had two really great catches and Tori had a great catch and the awareness to pick the ball up and throw out a runner on another play. That's something we've been working on. We don't want the outfielders to look up and then throw, but they need to know what the runner is doing before they catch it. Our infielders have some things to work on."
On the mound, Holtz struck out one and did not walk a batter, while also leading the Lady Trojans at the plate with three hits and two RBIs. Weiss and Craun both contributed two of STC's 11 hits, helping the Trojans end a brief two-game conference skid.
South Tama will host Grinnell on Thursday night. The junior varsity game starting at 6 p.m. with varsity starting at 7:30 p.m.