MCC launches Iowa Lakes

The only thing that can claim consistency this spring is the ever-changing schedule and the unpredictable weather.

And MCC’s propensity for launching the long ball.

After moving Friday’s Iowa Community College Athletic Conference doubleheader with Southwestern to Creston because of unplayable field conditions at home, the Marshalltown Community College softball squad hosted Iowa Lakes on Sunday after Estherville received a half foot of snow over the weekend.

Able to keep some spring in their steps, smiles on their faces and life in their bats, the Tigers took two games from Iowa Lakes on a warm but windy afternoon in Marshalltown, 3-1 and 12-2 in five innings.

“It’s getting to the point where we’re able to move around and get in a groove, and you’re kind of seeing that in our pitching and defense,” said MCC head coach Jeff Lamb. “It’s tough though, it’s not the easiest thing to do, but they’re doing a good job here lately.”

Marshalltown (16-16-1, 11-1) swept the ICCAC Division II twinbill to take over sole possession of third place in the conference standings with their fourth and fifth consecutive wins. It’s also the first time the Tigers’ record has been at .500 since a season-opening split in Oklahoma.

With winds gusting over 20 miles per hour from left field to right, MCC’s team-leading boppers – both right-handed – had to alter their approach at the plate Sunday. But the Tigers’ left-handed sluggers could, as Lamb so succinctly put it, “turn and burn.”

Alexis Farren and Brianna James both connected for their second home runs of the season, giving MCC 36 round-trippers for the season. That’s eighth-best in all of NJCAA D-II.

“We’re trying to go the other way with the righties, we talk a lot about ‘think out(side) and react in(side),” said Lamb. “We were finally able to do some damage. “Erica (White) and Marisa (Basham) lead us but Mackenzie (Gott), Brianna and Alexis can hit it out there too.”

Farren lofted her second home run of the season over the right-field fence during the sixth inning of game one, giving sophomore pitcher Stacy Roggentein some extra cushion to work with in the seventh.

Not that she needed it. Roggentein (8-2) retired the side in order to finish off a two-hitter, allowing a pair of extra-base hits and one unearned run. She walked three and struck out seven – one shy of matching her season high – despite battling her control.

The Tigers put at least one runner on in six of seven innings against Iowa Lakes hurler Alexandria Frausto. Marisa Basham opened the third inning with a double, Sarah Wilson doubled one out later, and both runners came around to score on Erica White’s single to the gap for a 2-0 lead. White was cut down trying to make it a double, but the damage had been done.

Iowa Lakes (8-18, 3-13) countered with its run in the fourth. Frausto reached on an error, took second on another MCC miscue and scored on Jessica Abrahamson’s two-out double to the gap in right.

But that was the last hit the Lakers would get against Roggentein, and one of only four baserunners to advance as far as second.

“She was tight, but she’s a really tough pitcher mentally,” Lamb said. “She knows how to pitch and she’s tough not only in the circle but outside of it too.

“When runners get on base, she really bears down.”

Sarah Wilson and Hailee Beals both had two hits, including a double for Wilson, in the opener. Emmeline Huffaker and Kyndal Milder both added singles as the Tigers touched Frausto for nine hits.

Marshalltown gave freshman pitcher Taylor Vaske the same support in the second game, though nine hits paired better with seven total walks issued by Iowa Lakes’ Jordyn Derflinger.

James clobbered a three-run home run – her second four-bagger of the spring – in the bottom of the first. Basham and Brooke Dunkin both walked to open the frame, Derflinger countered with two strikeouts, but James blasted a belt-high, full-count fastball onto the last batting cage beyond the fence in right.

James added a run-scoring single, as did Farren and Milder, during MCC’s eight-run second, and Basham capped the Tigers’ scoring with an RBI single in the fourth.

It was all more than enough for Vaske (6-9), who had a perfect game going until Amber Holmgren’s two-out single in the fourth, and a shutout until the Lakers got two runs on four hits in a last-gasp effort in the top of the fifth.

Rachel Hinners plated one with her bunt single and Morgan Vlasman added an RBI double, but that was all Iowa Lakes could muster in their ninth loss in their last 10 games.

“They’re a quality team, as that first game goes to show,” Lamb said of the Lakers. “They’ll be competitive when the regional tournament comes around. You’ve really got to compete with them no matter what.”

James finished 2-for-3 with two runs and four RBIs, while Farren was 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI. Basham and Dunkin both scored twice, and Milder had two RBIs.

Whitney Baker contributed a pinch-hit double, and additional RBIs came from Dunkin, White, Mackenzie Gott and Hailee Beals. Jacklyn Bear reached on a fielder’s choice in her only at-bat and scored on Basham’s fifth-inning single.

Vaske finished with three strikeouts and no walks.

“I think the biggest thing today was just pitch location,” Lamb added. “We were trying to stay in, and Taylor did a really good job of that for the first four innings.”

Weather permitting, the Tigers will be back at home again today with a conference twinbill against league-leading DMACC. The eighth-ranked Bears (29-1, 16-0) have won 15 straight and defeated MCC 3-2 and 8-3 in their first meeting this spring.

“In both games we at least played with them,” Lamb said. “If we play the right way, the way we know how, we’ll be alright.”

Today’s doubleheader is only part of the iceberg, however. Marshalltown’s postponement-plagued schedule has the Tigers playing doubleheaders Tuesday at Muscatine, Wednesday at home against No. 8 Kirkwood and Thursday at Iowa Lakes – bringing the week’s grand total to 16 games in eight days.