Although Monday night's victory never seemed in doubt, South Tama County's softball team didn't lock up the win until its final two innings at the plate.
The opposing Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebels barely threatened after the first inning. They had only two runners reach second during the final six innings.
However, South Tama couldn't muster enough runs to put away the Rebels. STC's offense came alive during the fifth and sixth inning as they totaled six runs during the pair of innings. South Tama (9-18) finished its shutout victory, beating the Rebels (1-21) 9-0.
South Tama senior Riley Craun safely steals second base during the Lady Trojans’ conference game against Gladbrook-Reinbeck. Craun led off the first inning with a single and stolen base, before scoring a run on an RBI single from junior Samantha Holtz. South Tama crushed the Rebels, beating them 9-0 and earning a season sweep against them.
"We weren't satisfied with one run," STC coach Chelsea Ahrens said. "We did a good job of tacking runs on in those later innings. We did a nice job of readjusting at the plate."
Clinging to a 3-0 lead after four innings, South Tama separated itself during the final two innings. Senior Jade Rohach and junior Samantha Holtz started the fifth inning with singles. Rohach moved to second on a wild pitch and then to third base on Holtz's hit. Sophomore Naomi Hoskey, who courtesy ran for Holtz, stole second base to get two runners into scoring position.
Freshman Dani Stubbs scored Rohach on a sacrifice fly. Stubbs hit the ball to deep left field, which allowed Rohach to tag third base and sprint home. Junior Madison Baack followed Stubbs with an RBI single to score Hoskey, who advanced to third on the sacrifice fly. STC took a 5-0 lead into the sixth inning, where the top of the order was due at the plate.
In the sixth inning, senior Riley Craun earned a walk and stole second base to start the inning. Junior Tori Appelgate followed her with a single to center field. Craun attempted to take home on the hit, but the Rebels' center fielder gunned her down at home plate. Appelgate moved to second on the throw home.
Rohach and Holtz once again hit timely singles for the Lady Trojans. Holtz's single scored Appelgate. Then junior Hailee Weiss ripped a shot to deep right field and the ball took a high bounce off of the Rebels' right fielder's glove and rolled to the fence. Weiss' hit was a two-RBI double that scored Rohach and Hoskey, who ran for Holtz again. Stubbs drilled an RBI single to left field, scoring Weiss and giving STC a 9-0 advantage.
"We were seeing the pitcher for the second or third time, so we were doing a nice job of putting the ball in play and hitting the ball hard," Ahrens said. "In the beginning, we hadn't played for three days, so we were a little quick with the bats and had our hands dropping. We did a nice job of readjusting the second and third times around."
South Tama started the game with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Craun led off with a single to left field. Craun stole second base and moved to third on a Rohach single. Holtz hit an sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Craun and giving STC an early 1-0 lead.
The Lady Trojans built that lead to 3-0 in the third inning with production from the heart of the lineup once again. Appelgate began the inning with a bunt single, stolen second base and advancement to third on a passed ball. Holtz was later walked before she stole second base, giving the Lady Trojans runners at second and third.
Weiss came through for the Lady Trojans. She reached first on an error when the Rebels' first baseman missed the ball for the out. The error allowed Appelgate and Hoskey, who ran for Holtz, to score runs.
Hoskey led South Tama with three runs on Monday night. Appelgate and Rohach each added two runs. Four STC players recorded a pair of hits on the night. They were Appelgate, Rohach, Holtz and junior Trisha Walz.
"We hadn't played softball in three days," Ahrens said. "Sometimes that can be good to step away from the game. We talked about that after Thursday's loss. We thought maybe getting away from each other for a couple days and coming back tonight to play well. It worked."
The Rebels only seriously threatened to score in the first inning. After a ground-out, the Rebels hit a single, earned a walk and hit another single to load the bases. The Rebels' No. 5 hitter dribbled a ball back to Holtz, who threw the ball to Craun at home for the force out. The next batter also hit the ball to Holtz, who tossed it to Walz at first for the final out.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck had only two more runners reach second base during the next six innings. G-R also had only two hits during that stretch and one of those runners was gunned down trying to steal second base in the third inning.
"They only had the runner at second in the last inning and that was the only other scoring threat they had," Ahrens said. "They had only four hits tonight. We did a nice job of buckling down and getting out of that first inning.
"I thought we played good defense tonight," she said. "We had only two errors and two walks. That's what we need. That's a goal of ours. We want two or less errors and walks. We're going to win games if we do that."