Bobcats barrel through West Marshall tournament

STATE CENTER – Whether its Class 5A ranked Waukee or Ottumwa, or a pair of smaller-sized opponents, Marshalltown softball coach Jeff Lamb is looking for the same Bobcats.

He got what he wanted on Saturday.

Marshalltown racked up 25 hits in nine innings, ran aggressively from station-to-station and its pitchers did not walk a batter during a 2-0 showing at West Marshall’s newly formed five-team tournament.

The Bobcats (3-4), fresh off a pair of tough-to-swallow losses at 5A No. 2 Ottumwa a night earlier, hit the ground running on Saturday and picked up their first wins since their season opener at Newton. MHS downed West Marshall, 10-0 in six innings, and then hammered Southeast Webster-Grand, 15-0 in three innings.

“We did well, our baserunning was exceptional and we need to build off that,” said Lamb. “It’s what we do, and we need to continue to do it against everybody, not just the teams we think we should be able to.”

The tournament host Trojans, meanwhile, had trouble in all stages of the game and got beat in both of their contests. Greene County ended West Marshall’s day with an 11-4 setback.

The Trojans totaled just nine hits on the day while committing 10 errors defensively.

“We weren’t mentally focused. Physically we were here but in the game of softball, more than anything just being here isn’t enough,” said West Marshall coach Jordan Bentley. “We can’t commit more than two errors in a game. Ten errors in a day? You’re not going to win any games that way.

“Errors will lose you games, and right now that’s what’s happening to us. And it’s not just the younger kids, it’s everybody.”

Five of Marshalltown’s 10 runs against West Marshall left-hander Rachel Freland were unearned. The Bobcats struck for one in the first, two in the second, three in the third and fourth, and another in the sixth to finish it by the run-rule.

MHS (3-4) amassed 15 hits to go with three walks and a hit batter, while senior hurler Lauren Mazour allowed only two hits. She struck out two and did not walk a batter.

Mazour also tossed two innings in the Bobcats’ beatdown of Southeast Webster-Grand, running her two-day (20-hour) total to 17 frames of action in the circle.

“We were a little slow on the uptake today, we left five runners on base in the first two innings,” Lamb explained. “Eventually we did a good job of driving them in, and Lauren was outstanding today.”

Karis Gibbs led off the top of the second with West Marshall’s first hit of the day, and Sadie Simatovich added a fourth-inning hit but was caught stealing. The Trojans (1-6) were unable to advance any runners as far as second base in the loss.

Marshalltown had little issue with that. Leadoff batter Taylor Wagner went 4-for-4 with a double, a stolen base, three runs scored and an RBI. Cleanup hitter Quinn Goodman was 2-for-4 with a two-run, two-out double in the second, and No. 8 hitter Morgan Bellile was 2-for-3 with two RBI singles and three runs scored.

Emily DeVenney added two hits from the bottom spot in the batting order, and the Bobcats rolled with relative ease. Every MHS hitter produced at least one hit, including singles for Madi Bellile, Cassidy Blackford, Mazour, Maggie Carnahan and Kaley Mead.

In their second game of the day, Marshalltown rapped out 10 hits to go with the eight total free passes issued by Southeast Webster-Grand pitcher Nicole Williams. The Eagles got just one hit off Mazour in her two innings, and Jasmine Judge struck out one in her perfect inning of relief.

Wagner rounded out a perfect day at the plate going 2-for-2 with a double, two stolen bases, two runs scored and three RBIs. Goodman was 2-for-2 with two doubles, a walk, two runs and two RBIs, and Mead went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs.

Pinch-hitter McKaylee Palmer even got in on the act, contributing a RBI single and scoring a run. Tabby Steffensen walked twice and scored twice in the whitewashing.

“It was important for our offense to do what they did today,” Lamb said. “We would have liked to have won a couple (Friday) and play better against Waukee, but I like what we’re doing and I like what I’m seeing.”

Freland finished with six strikeouts against Marshalltown, walking a total of four in the loss. West Marshall’s primary pitcher suffered a large bruise on her pitching elbow Friday and was icing it throughout the day. The seams of the softball to strike her could still be seen atop the contusion.

“I thought overall she threw well today,” said Bentley. “Last year she didn’t have to throw a lot of back-to-back games, but now she’s our pitcher. If she’s here, she’s throwing.”

Greene County got to Freland for 10 hits, and seven total walks didn’t help West Marshall’s cause either. Freland struck out two in the loss, with eight of 11 runs coming earned to the sophomore.

The Rams jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first half inning, made it 3-1 with another tally in the third, and poured it on with four-run frames in the fifth and seventh.

West Marshall got half of its offense in the bottom of the seventh. Shelby Tichy and Kenadey Porter reached on consecutive singles, and their pinch-runners Gabrielle Gerke and Blair Bailey eventually came across on a groundout by Simatovich and McKenna Hotopp’s bloop single to left.

Hotopp was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, including a sacrifice bunt that scored leadoff hitter Nicole Riemenschneider in the first. Riemenschneider, and Sadie and Sammie Simatovich each had singles. The Trojans had no extra-base hits on the day, but struck out only two times – none against Greene County’s Marissa Promes.

“I still think we’re doing a nice job of putting the bat on the ball,” Bentley said. “We’re not going to be a team that will score 7-8 runs a game. We can probably score 5-6 runs and we have to hold people to less.”

Greene County leadoff batter Jennifer Kennedy led the Rams going 3-for-5 with a double, a run and an RBI. The Rams had four extra-base hits, including a triple for Emily Christensen.

West Marshall’s week begins with its NICL West Division opener Monday at South Hardin. The Trojans host 2A No. 13 AGWSR on Tuesday in league play, and then Van Meter comes calling for a non-conference contest.

Marshalltown opens the week with Monday’s CIC Northern Division doubleheader at home against Fort Dodge, and then a non-conference twinbill awaits Wednesday at Urbandale.