BOBCAT CLASSIC: Busy Comets bank first two; 3 on deck

It’s been a busy week for the BCLUW softball team. The Class 2A No. 9 Comets played their fifth and sixth games of the week Friday at the Bobcat Softball Classic.

But not even a busy schedule could slow down the Comets during the first day of the tournament as BCLUW beat Roland-Story 4-2 in the opener and then took down Colfax-Mingo 3-1 in nine innings later in the day.

“It’s a great test for us. It is going to test our character,” said BCLUW coach Casey Moberly, whose team will play three more games Saturday. “By the end of the day, we are going to be hurting and dragging. I don’t think it will phase them though. The girls love to play the game and they want to be here.”

Strong pitching, timely hitting and some stellar defensive plays all played factors in the two wins Friday.

Olivia Calloway struck out eight and allowed three hits over six innings against the Lady Norse and then Nicolette Simpson followed that up with a 10-strikeout, six-hit performance against the Tigerhawks.

Both pitchers gave Moberly exactly what the Comets needed.

“They are throwing good, throwing hard and their balls are getting some decent movement,” Moberly said. “As long as we can back them up defensively there is no reason they can’t keep doing what they are doing.”

The big hit in the opener against Roland-Story came in the first inning and it was a two-run home run by Jessica deNeui. Her second blast of the season gave the Comets an early lead, and BCLUW (18-5) never looked back.

“Whenever you get the lead in the first inning, it is nice defensively to just be able to relax and play the game,” Moberly said. “They came back there and gave us a scare at the end, but the girls made plays late to conserve the win.”

The other two runs for the Comets came on an RBI single by Kayla Benjamin in the third and an RBI hit in the fifth from Jori Oaks. Sarah McCoy also doubled twice as the Comets finished with eight hits.

The first two Lady Norse reached base in the sixth inning and they both scored following a wild pitch and an RBI single by Ena Moats. Calloway though left two on the bases and ended the threat by forcing a game-ending ground out.

The game ended after six innings because of the 90-minute time limit.

The Comets needed extra innings to take care of Colfax-Mingo. Both teams had trouble with execution and each squad kept the game close with strong defensive plays in the field.

BCLUW, which has now won 10 of its last 11 games, went on top first in the second inning when Simpson’s double sent Benjamin to third base. An error on the throw in allowed Benjamin to score but Simpson was gunned down at third.

Jena Teed singled and scored on Sydnie Fahrney’s infield RBI single to tie the game in the third inning.

The next big threat of the game came in the fifth inning when BCLUW loaded the bases with three singles that didn’t leave the infield. With no outs though, deNeui’s pop out triggered a rare triple play as the Tigerhawks (11-9) got out of the jam with a huge defensive sequence.

“I haven’t seen that as a player or a coach,” Moberly said. “Right now, we are struggling with the line drive. That is our fourth or fifth double play in the last week and a half. We have got to be smarter on those plays. We have got to see it down before taking off for another base. We’ve talked about it, but we just have to make the adjustment.”

Fahrney, who will play for Marshalltown Community College next season, hit a two-out double in the fifth but was stranded. Neither team threatened again until extra innings.

The Comets had a runner on third with one out but failed to execute a bunt and then grounded out to end the eighth inning.

“We are struggling to put the bunt down when it is a key point in the game,” Moberly said. “That’s just pressure. We need to forget about the pressure and get the job done.”

With one out in the eighth for the Tigerhawks, another run was erased after Haley Veldhouse gunned down Fahrney, who was trying to score on a single by Riley Thompson. It was defensive plays like that, that helped send the Comets to their 18th win of the year.

“We made some great defensive plays today,” Moberly said. “Earlier in the game, Kendall Scurr made a great play at shortstop and that out was followed by a double that would have scored the runner. We are making plays that are keeping us in the game. Both of those plays were key to this win.”

BCLUW finally won the game in the ninth inning with two runs. Veldhouse started the frame as a pinch runner on second base and scored the game-winning run on an error. The Comets added an insurance tally later on an RBI single by Benjamin.

Simpson walked two batters in the bottom of the ninth to load the bases with two outs but forced a fly out to center field to end the game.

The Comets and Bondurant-Farrar are the only two teams playing three games Saturday. BCLUW and the Class 3A No. 7 Lady Jays start the day against each other at 9 a.m. and then BCLUW also faces Class 1A No. 6 Lynnville-Sully at 2:15 p.m. and Marion at 4 p.m.

It will be BCLUW’s ninth game of the week.

“We just need to make sure we get focused,” Moberly said. “We need to get our rest and get some food when we are not playing. We are pretty good about being focused once we hit the dugout. I don’t think we’re going to struggle with it at all.”