Bobcats fail to close out resilient Rams
Twice the Marshalltown softball team had late leads against the Southeast Polk Rams on Wednesday. And both times, the Bobcats couldn’t close out the victory.
Southeast Polk trailed by one run heading into the seventh inning of both games only to tie the score and eventually win in extra innings as the Rams beat Marshalltown 7-3 in 12 innings in the opener and 4-1 in eight frames in the nightcap during a Central Iowa Conference non-conference affair.
“We led every inning except for one and a half, so to come away with two losses like that is pretty disappointing,” Marshalltown coach Jeff Lamb said. “We had some trouble executing and the want to be here just wasn’t here today.”
Missed opportunities was the key in the opener as both teams stranded a total of 20 runners on base. The Bobcats were thrown out at third twice in the game and also failed to execute a suicide squeeze bunt in the 10th inning with a runner on third and only one out.
“You don’t look at any one thing and say that is it.” Lamb said of the suicide squeeze bunt attempt. “There were lots of things today. We had five runners left on base in the first three innings of the second game. We should have had a much better lead than what we did and we didn’t have it.”
In game two, Lauren Mazour threw six scoreless innings before the Rams tied it with two hits in the seventh. Southeast Polk (20-11) scored all three of its runs in the eighth inning after two outs were recorded as the Bobcats had trouble making plays in the field. It was the fourth straight win for the Rams.
“I want someone who actually wants to go out and win,” Lamb said. “Right now, with where we are, it is OK for them to not win the game in the seventh inning and that is not OK. It is not OK for me, it is not OK for them and it is not OK for Marshalltown to let that happen.”
The Rams were coming off a road sweep of Class 5A ranked Ankeny, but the Bobcats controlled both games most of the way. Even though it is no consolation, Marshalltown (11-16) should have confidence against the Rams if each team advances to play each other in the substate final later this month.
“We can play with anybody,” Lamb said. “This is one of those things where we have to step up and make things happen. Until someone steps up and takes the leadership and does something, then we as coaches can want it all we want, but we have to execute and play the way we can play or we won’t get where we want to get to.”
The Rams plated an unearned run in the first inning of game one and then the Bobcats came right back to grab the lead with two runs in their half of the first.
Marshalltown scored both runs with two outs. Quinn Goodman and Lauren Mazour each had blooping RBI singles to right field to give the home team an early advantage.
Neither team scored again until Southeast Polk tied it at 2-all in the seventh following an RBI single by Kristen Webb. That run also came with two outs.
Cassady Knudsen led off the 10th inning with a walk for the Rams and then later scored on Shelby Uhl’s RBI double. That was the only extra-base hit on the night and it put the visitors in the lead for the first time in the game.
Marshalltown rallied with one out though in its half of the eighth inning. Cassidy Blackford and Goodman recorded back-to-back singles, before Blackford eventually scored and Goodman got to third after two errors by the left fielder.
However, with one out and Goodman on third base, the Bobcats failed to execute a suicide squeeze at the plate. Goodman was hung out to dry on the bases and was called out at third to end the threat.
That would prove to be crucial for the Bobcats. Neither team scored in the 11th inning, but a walk and four hits as well as two errors by Marshalltown allowed the Rams to plate four in the 12th.
Taylor Wagner’s one-out single in the 12th was the only base runner of the inning as the Bobcats let game one slip away.
Jasmine Judge took the loss, allowing 13 hits and six earned runs in 12 innings. Judge stranded 11 Rams on base and the Bobcats had seven errors in the game.
Runs were hard to come by in the second game as Bobcat starter Mazour and Southeast Polk hurler Knudsen were in control in the circle.
Knudsen fanned two in the first inning and left the bases loaded but a lead-off walk to Morgan Bellile in the fifth inning allowed MHS to once again grab a lead.
Emily DeVenney reached base as well after Southeast Polk’s attempt to throw out Bellile at second failed. Madi Bellile’s bunt moved both runners up a base with two outs and Morgan Bellile eventually scored on a wild pitch.
That run was almost enough to earn a doubleheader split for the Bobcats. Southeast Polk though had other ideas.
Kenzie Hilzer led off the seventh inning with a single and then took second on a sacrifice bunt. Another two-out hit, this time by No. 9 hitter Kali Lange, got through the infield to tie the game.
Knudsen faced the minimum in the MHS seventh and eighth innings. And a two-run, two-out single by Brooke French gave the Rams the lead and a third run crossed thanks to a Bobcat error.
Mazour took the loss in game two, surrendering eight hits and thee earned runs in eight innings. The Bobcats collected just three hits at the plate.
“Both of them were outstanding,” Lamb said of Judge and Mazour. “They both got us where we needed to be and gave us a chance to win. Our defense didn’t let us down, but you can point to a few things where we let the game get out of hand instead of keeping it where it needed to be so we can come back. We just can’t have that.”
Blackford played all of game one but missed the second game due to an illness. … The losses by the Bobcats ended their short three-game win streak. … The Bobcats had runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings of game one but failed to score. … In the two games, the Rams stranded 17 baserunners, while the Bobcats left 16 on base. … MHS will next play a doubleheader in Fort Dodge today. The Dodgers swept the Bobcats earlier this season at the MHS diamond.