Despite some early game struggles on the pitching mound and defensively, the South Tama County softball team nearly rallied to beat rival Grinnell.
However, the Lady Trojans fell short last Thursday night. They had runners on base during the final two innings, but failed to score any runs. Grinnell won the game 6-3 as STC (5-10) lost its third-straight game and finished last week 0-3.
"Too many walks. Too many errors," STC coach Chelsea Ahrens said. "We hit some batters. We didn't play well to begin with and it cost us. We held them from there and I thought we settled in, but by then it was too late. Then we weren't able to capitalize on some of the opportunities later on. We had some blunders out there."
Members of the South Tama softball team break a huddle at the pitcher's mound before starting the third inning last Thursday. Grinnell beat STC 6-3 in the rivalry game.
South Tama had its chances to close the gap in the final two innings at the plate. In the sixth inning, STC started off with a groundout to shortstop. Following the out, freshman Kallie Hala hits a double and sophomore Naomi Hoskey hit a fielder's choice single, leaving Hala at second base. Senior Riley Craun loads the bases with the next at-bat as she hit a single to left field.
The Lady Trojans had bases loaded with one out and their No. 2 and No. 3 hitters coming up next. Junior Tori Appelgate struck out looking. Then senior Jade Rohach hit a groundball to the pitcher, who threw it home for the force out at home. The inning ended with Grinnell still leading 6-3.
"We had bases loaded with one out and we weren't able to score," Ahrens said. "That's who you want up and there's nobody else I'd rather have up. They just weren't able to come through and that happens. It's just the mental part of the game."
After facing just three batters in the top of the seventh inning, South Tama went to the plate with one last chance to score runs. Junior Hailee Weiss led off with a single to centerfield. Freshman Dani Stubbs was next up to the plate. Stubbs hit a hard, line drive right to the third baseman, who made the catch and threw back to first base for the double play as Weiss had started running toward second as the ball was hit.
"It's unfortunate," Ahrens said of the seventh inning. "It's a base running blunder, but even if she wouldn't have taken a big lead, she would have probably still been out, because she heard the ball hit and went. You can't fault her for that. That's not how we won or lost the game. We lost the game with errors in the first two innings and walks. That's kind of been the story of our season errors and walks. You're not going to win softball games if you do those two things."
Grinnell scored five runs during the first two innings. South Tama got the leadoff batter to ground out in the first, but walked the next three batters to load the bases. Grinnell's No. 5 batter hit an RBI single to score the first run of the game. She was followed by an RBI single as the batter reached first on an STC error at second base. The Trojans worked out of the jam with bases loaded again, but Grinnell's two runs had already done the damage.
South Tama once again struggled in the second inning. The Tigers' leadoff batter was hit by a pitch before the No. 1 batter was walked. Both runners stole second base and the leadoff player reached third on a wild pitch. Grinnell scored two runs when the next batter hit a two-run single. After another STC error, Grinnell scored one more run off of an RBI single.
"I wish I knew the answer to that," Ahrens said why Hala struggled early on the mound. "It could be nerves. It could be a lot of things. I thought she settled in and did a nice job. I think we were trying to do too much there and trying to call too many pitches. At the end, we just worked on calling strikes and throwing strikes."
The Lady Trojans did score one run in each of the first three innings to keep the lead within striking distance. Rohach scored in the first inning for STC. Hala hit a single in the second inning and later scored on an RBI single from Craun. In the third inning, Weiss reached on a single and Stubbs hit her home with an RBI single.
"We were down on ourselves after we had gotten down," Ahrens said. "But I thought we did a nice job of coming back and wanting it. You could tell we wanted it, but maybe we didn't want it as much (Grinnell) did."
South Tama started its week on the road. STC traveled to Grundy Center on Monday, BCLUW on Tuesday and will play at East Marshall on Wednesday. STC will host East Marshall on Thursday before playing four games at the Marshalltown Tournament on Friday and Saturday.