West Marshall softball ends long losing streak
STATE CENTER – The West Marshall softball team likes to have a good understanding of where they are by the time the Rose Festival Tournament takes place.
And after snapping a long losing streak and nearly winning two straight games, the Trojans and coach Jordan Bentley feel like a corner has been turned.
“I am happy with how we played today, and I really feel like we turned a corner this weekend,” Bentley said. “We like to win all three games at the Rose Festival. We didn’t get that done but we had our chances to win that second one as well.”
The Trojans began the day with a 6-4 win over Collins-Maxwell/Baxter and then lost to Greene County, 7-4, in nine innings. The final game of the day resulted in a 13-0 loss to Class 4A No. 11 Norwalk, which was the only undefeated team on the day.
“We had some misfortunes and some things didn’t go our way in that second game, but we are building and moving in the right direction,” Bentley said. “There was nothing but positives with this weekend.”
The win over the Raiders (4-11) snapped a 13-game losing streak for West Marshall. The Trojans are now 2-17 on the season.
CMB plated two runs in its first at-bat and most teams on long losing streaks would shut it down and give up. The Trojans, though, dug deep and found a way to win, scoring four runs in the third inning and holding down the Raiders’ offense the rest of the way.
Karis Gibbs’ two-run double in the second inning tied the game at 2 and then a Georgia Porter double plated two more in the third. McKenna Hotopp and Gibbs also had run-scoring hits in the frame as West Marshall regained the lead at 6-4.
“We kept fighting. We held on for the last three innings,” Bentley said. “And we usually run into trouble there. We showed we can finish out games.”
Neither team scored the rest of the way as eighth-grader Kallie Malloy surrendered just six hits in the win and shut down CMB for the final four innings.
“We’re not as bad as our record is,” Bentley said. “We are a good team that just doesn’t get the breaks some nights or just mentally we fall apart at times.
“We are not a bad team. We honestly believe we can play with anyone on any given day.”
The Trojans put together another solid performance against Greene County, which was formerly Jefferson-Scranton/Paton-Churdan and Greene County.
West Marshall led 3-1 through six innings but gave up two in the seventh that forced the game into extra innings.
With the International rules in effect, both teams had a runner at third base in the eighth inning but didn’t score.
Sadie Simatovich started at second base and took third on a sacrifice bunt by Shelby Larsen. Hotopp hit a hard grounder to third on the next play and it looked like Simatovich was going to be able to score the game-winner, but headed toward home before the Greene County third basemen heaved the ball to first.
Simatovich was eventually caught in a run-down to end the threat.
“That game was ours,” Bentley said. “I personally take the blame for that. It’s a tough spot. You are not looking for a ground ball right to the base. I figured she would stop and tag us out and when she didn’t look to do that, I assumed she was going to first. I told her to go and I take full blame.”
Greene County carried the momentum into its at-bat in the ninth inning and three straight hits and two West Marshall errors plated four runs.
Porter scored on a passed ball in the ninth but the Trojans couldn’t mount any more of a comeback.
Norwalk used a six-run first and a seven-run second to put the Trojans away early in the final game of the day.
Porter’s lead-off single in the second was the team’s only hit against Warrior junior Sidney Zepnak. Blair Bailey walked with two outs in the second and Simatovich walked to lead off the third but both runners were stranded on the bases.
Malloy took the loss against Norwalk, but Bentley stressed to his young pitcher after the game to focus more on the victory over CMB and less on the loss to the state-ranked Warriors.
“She can’t get down on herself. She worked through some stuff in that game to help herself out,” Bentley said. “They are a good hitting team. She needs to focus on the victory and not on this game.”
The Trojans played without the services of ace pitcher Rachel Freland, who suffered an injury to her shoulder last week. Bentley hopes to get Freland back soon, but will look for others to step up in the meantime.
“We hope to get her back soon, but we aren’t going to use that as an excuse,” Bentley said. “With her, we have our best chance to win. But the other girls are going to step up until she can come back.”
Hotopp is the starting shortstop and No. 3 hitter on offense, but the Marshalltown Community College signee saw time in the circle for the first time in a month Saturday. She pitched against Greene County and nearly got the Trojans another victory. … Norwalk’s only loss this season was a 1-0 defeat to Class 4A No. 6 Indianola. The Warriors have no won 18 straight games after also beating East Marshall and Greene County on Saturday. … CMB went 1-2 on the day with its lone win coming against Des Moines Christian.