The Lady Trojans got out to a slow start against the Mustangs on Monday. In the first game of their doubleheader the Trojans were held to one hit (Collins) across four innings of play. Starting the first game for STC was senior Sam Holtz. The Trojan defense struggled against the hard-hitting Mustang offense and in the fourth inning, ended the game with a final score of 14-0.
When asked about how her team regrouped after their first game loss, STC head coach Chelsea Ahrens replied, "We just talked in between games about getting fired up, knowing that we could play with them. We knew that they were going to throw their second pitcher who we had a lot of success against, so that gave us some confidence."
Going into Monday's games, East Marshall has been keeping pace with AGWSR and BCLUW atop the NICL West with a record of 10-3. The East Marshall softball program has been a consistent force in the NICL West, finishing well above .500 and in the top third of the conference in the past three years. STC head coach Chelsea Ahrens hopes her squad will make a move into that upper tier saying, "Ackley, (East Marshall) and BCLUW are kind of those three top teams, and we're hoping that we can just play better games against them."
Sam Holtz takes a giant celebratory leap onto home plate after hitting her first career home run on Monday June 9.
News Herald Photo/Darvin Graham
In the second game of their doubleheader the Trojans kept things close as several players contributed at the plate and the defense responded with an energized effort. In her fifth start of the season, Kallie Hala battled hard against the Mustang batters and held them scoreless for the first half of the game.
In the top of the second inning STC shortstop Hailee Weiss lined a double and reached third from a stolen base. Catcher Catie Collins walked to put runners on the corners for the Trojans. However, East Marshall's starting pitcher Haley Long stifled the Trojan offensive by striking out the next batter and forcing a line drive straight to the third baseman to end the inning.
After Hala and the Trojan defense made quick work of the Mustangs in the second, Tori Appelgate ignited the STC offense with a lead off double in the third. Second baseman Madie Baack hit a textbook sacrifice bunt that advanced Appelgate to third and set up DH Sam Holtz for what would be a memorable at-bat. Holtz connected on a pitch from Long and sent monster fly ball deep into left field. As the ball sailed over the fence for a home run the Trojan dugout erupted in celebration and came out to greet Holtz as she emphatically leapt onto home plate. This was the first career home run for the senior Holtz. After the game Coach Ahrens commented on Holtz's hit saying, "She really hit that one hard. That was fun and was a good way to start the game and a good way to get going."
With a 2-0 lead the Trojans forced the Mustangs to replace Long on the mound with their junior ace Mariah Fritz. The hard throwing Fritz steadied the Mustang defense and got them out of the inning with a strikeout and a pop up.
In the bottom of the third the East Marshall offense found a rhythm and quickly responded to STC's early success. After a walk to Haley Fye, Fritz poked through a single that brought in the first run for the Mustangs. Two batters later junior shortstop Taylor Fricke went yard for her fifth home run of the season, driving in three runs to take the lead 4-2. Fricke has been a dominant power hitter for the Mustangs as she's racked up 17 career homeruns and last season tied for the second most home runs in the NICL West.
By the sixth inning the Mustangs had widened their lead to 6-2. Leading off the top of the sixth, STC third baseman Dani Stubbs reached first on a single. Stubbs then stole a base to put herself into scoring position for the fourth batter, Collins. A ground ball single by Collins drove in Stubbs and the Trojans crawled back to within three.
After Fritz retired the side in the top of the sixth, the Mustang offense kept their foot on the gas with two doubles (Fricke, Ashley Allen) that scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Hala got Long to ground into the last out of the inning and the Trojans went into their final at bat starring down a six point deficit.
Much to the credit of the team's perseverance, the Trojans refused to go down without a fight. Appelgate, batting second in the inning, hit a single to give the Trojans a runner on base. After a strikeout to second baseman Naomi Hoskey (who came in to replace Madie Baack in the bottom of the fifth), and with two outs in the seventh, Sam Holtz hit a clutch single that extended the inning and set up Appelgate into scoring position. Stubbs stepped to plate and notched her second single on the night that drove in Appelgate for the Trojan's fourth run. Hoping to continue the momentum, Weiss hit a hard line drive that took an inopportune angle and landed directly into the third baseman's glove for the final out of the game.
The final score of the second game was 9-4, Mustangs. The next scheduled meeting between these two teams will be on the Trojan's home field on Wednesday June 25th. The Trojans will also have another opportunity to improve their conference standing on the road this Thursday June 12 against the BCLUW Comets.