BOBCAT CLASSIC: Mustang bats key narrow victories

For a team outscoring its opponents by an average of nearly five runs per game, the Class 3A No. 4-ranked East Marshall softball squad came through in a pair of close games Saturday at the Bobcat Classic.

Just mark it down as a nip-and-tuck week for the Mustangs.

One of 3A’s most prolific offensive clubs delivered with the bats again, picking up the timely hits – highlighted by two more home runs – in wins over Colfax-Mingo and Roland-Story to round out its 5-1 week with a fifth straight win.

All six games were decided by two runs or less, including a 2-1 loss Monday to 2A No. 9 BCLUW that actually propeled the Mustangs through the rest of the week. Hopes of getting back into the NICL West Division championship conversation will hinge on East Marshall (19-3) doing its part and hoping 2A No. 7 AGWSR comes back to the Mustangs.

“They’re wins anyway,” said head coach Jary Hoskey, “but we played two quality opponents today. They both play in an awfully tough conference but we got some good pitching and timely hits. The home runs set the tone for us, and both our pitchers threw well.

“That was a bitter pill, that BCLUW game, but we got one back by beating AGWSR the next night.”

Inconsequential to the Mustangs’ title hopes were Saturday’s tournament games, starting with a 5-4 triumph over a relentless Colfax-Mingo club. The Tigerhawks (13-10) scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to close within 5-4, but Mariah Fritz and her defense got out of the jam and held on for the victory.

Senior catcher Katie Roseland connected for her 3A-leading 10th home run – tying her for second in the state – by belting a high fastball over the left-field fence that banged into a poorly parked SUV on the fly.

Roseland’s long ball made it a 4-0 Mustang lead after they had already scored three times in the top of the second. Taylor Fricke reached on a leadoff double, Ashley Allen singled and Callie Roseland walked. Haley Long plated the first run with her single, and a Sophia Grego groundout brought in two more after an errant throw across the infield.

East Marshall scored what would later prove to be a much-needed insurance run in the fifth, as Paige Miller singled, stole second and scored on Fricke’s two-out hit through the left side.

Fritz recorded nine of her 10 strikeouts in the first four innings, but the Tigerhawks tallied four of their six hits en route to a three-run fifth.

Colfax-Mingo managed no more hits after that inning, though, and East Marshall escaped with the win.

Katie Roseland, Fricke, Allen and Long each had two hits, including doubles for Fricke and Allen, to lead East Marshall’s 10-hit attack. Fritz allowed two hits outside of C-M’s three-run outburst, allowing just one earned run with two walks and 10 strikeouts.

Losing pitcher Amy Russell was 2-for-4 with a double at the plate for the Tigerhawks, and Rachel Forschler was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Russell struck out two and walked one.

East Marshall 5,

Roland-Story 3, 6 innings

Allen ripped her second home run in the last three days, a two-run shot that gave East Marshall a lead it would not relinquish in a 5-3 victory over Roland-Story.

The sophomore shortstop’s two-run homer to left field broke a 1-all tie and the Mustangs made sure to keep the advantage despite Roland-Story’s pesky ways. The Lady Norse (8-10) put a total of five runners on base in the top of the sixth and final frame, but two of them ran into tag-outs and another was stranded as R-S tried to rally back from a 5-1 deficit.

They got two runs but it would be their last at-bat because of the tournament’s time limit, leaving East Marshall with its fifth straight win by no more than two runs.

Allen’s two-run rip put the Mustangs on top in the third, but it was two key insurance runs in the fifth that eventually provided the final margin. Katie Roseland’s leadoff single chased Roland-Story starter Erin Nuetzman from the pitching circle, but Bryce Holmgren was greeted by Fricke’s hit back through the box.

Callie Roseland sacrificed them both into scoring position with a bunt, and Kylee Hoskey came up with an RBI single in a two-out, two-strike scenario to score courtesy runner Bobbi Amendt. Grego followed suit with her second hit of the game, plating pinch-runner Kylee Hoskins for a 5-1 Mustang advantage.

Long finished with six strikeouts and one walk, allowing seven hits as all three runs came earned. East Marshall made no errors in the narrow win, coming through with the necessary hits again.

Katie Roseland and Grego led the Mustangs with two hits apiece, while Allen, Fricke, Callie Roseland, Long and Hoskey each had one.

Nuetzman took the loss in the circle for Roland-Story, allowing three earned on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Cassie Shadlow and Mikenzi Monthei both had two of the Lady Norse’s seven hits.

“Roland-Story is a 3A team so that’s a good win for us, we could face them again down the road,” Coach Hoskey said. “Ashley’s home run and Kylee’s hit I thought were key hits, and Sophie Grego has been stinging the ball all season long and today she got a couple.

“We’re growing. It’s a young, new infield and we’re getting healthy.”

The Mustangs return to NICL West action with Monday’s road game at West Marshall, and they’re back home Tuesday with Gladbrook-Reinbeck.