STATE SOFTBALL: Melancholy Mustangs
FORT DODGE – The end result came with frustration, tears and a bit of controversy, though the final destination found the Mustangs right where they wanted to be.
One of eight teams left standing in Class 3A, the East Marshall softball team couldn’t climb the ladder any further Wednesday, dropping a pair of consolation games at the Iowa Girls’ High School State Softball Tournament at Rogers Sports Complex.
After falling 8-3 to third-ranked Mid-Prairie in a rematch of last year’s fifth place game, the Mustangs mounted a couple rallies that fell just short in a 7-6 eight-inning loss to ninth-rated Monticello in the seventh-place bout.
“It’s definitely not how we wanted to finish, but a lot of teams aren’t playing right now,” said Katie Roseland, one of three graduating seniors on the squad. “I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”
The Panthers’ Erin Hosch ripped an RBI single to left field, plating courtesy runner Allison Kraus for the winning run in the bottom of the eighth, though not before the fourth-ranked Mustangs thought they had tallied the go-ahead run in their final at-bat.
Using international tiebreaker rules, East Marshall eighth grader Bobbi Amendt advanced from second to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kylee Hoskey, before racing home on a groundout from Sophia Grego. Amendt beat the throw home but couldn’t get her foot on the plate, which was walled off by Monticello catcher Lael Lubben before the ball reached her glove. Unable to get by Lubben, Amendt was tagged out as the appeal of Mustang coach Jary Hoskey and the Mustang fans didn’t turn the call.
“From the dugout it looked like (Lubben) was blocking the plate before the play was there,” Callie Roseland said of the Mustangs’ final out. “I thought Bobbi had it. She’s a little girl and can’t really tackle the catcher. I thought it was interference.”
While Hoskey and the Mustangs (28-8) had a different viewpoint from the umpire, the East Marshall coach was quick to point out the other plays his squad had an opportunity to make.
“That’s part of softball, you have good calls and bad calls,” said Hoskey. “We needed to get that last girl out and we didn’t do it.”
Kraus put the Mustangs into an early hole with an RBI single in the first, before Paxtyn Keleher added a two-run hit to stake the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
Kylee Hoskey smacked a single to right field in the fourth, bringing in Ashley Allen and pinch runner Kelsea Anderson before a pair of Panther miscues allowed the Mustangs to knot the game. Sophia Grego’s roper to right was misplayed in the outfield and the ensuing throw to third to was high, allowing courtesy runner Amanda Paxton to cross home.
Monticello (32-8) reclaimed its early advantage with another three-spot in the fifth. Sonya McCormick scored on a wild pitch and back-to-back run-scoring singles by Kori Bohlken and Paxtyn Keleher pushed the lead to 6-3.
The Mustangs refused to quit.
Callie Roseland and Haley Long opened the sixth with consecutive singles, before both advanced on Grego’s sacrifice bunt and reached home on Mariah Fritz’s two-run single to center field.
Fritz took the circle in relief and retired the next six batters in order in the sixth and seventh, as Callie Roseland ripped a double to left field to bring home courtesy runner Maci Fritz in the top of the seventh. Maci Fritz ran for Fricke who blooped a single just past the infield to extend the game, before the Panthers eventually escaped in the eighth.
Fritz (14-5) allowed one unearned run on the winning hit by Erin Hosch in 2 2/3 innings, while fanning three. Long allowed six runs (five earned) on five hits and five walks, while retiring five on strikes in five frames. The duo combined for five hits at the dish with Fritz driving in a pair of runs hitting 2-for-3 and Long batting 3-for-4. Callie Roseland plated a run with two hits and Hoskey drove in a couple runs as the Mustangs rapped out 12 hits but stranded seven on base.
Hosch (24-7) went the distance for the Panthers allowing five earned runs on 12 hits, with five strikeouts and no walks. Keleher led the Panthers with 3 RBIs on two hits, while Kraus scored three times and drove in a run.
Though falling just short on the scoreboard, the game was a better representation of the NICL West Division runners-up, which had four errors and just six hits in the day’s opening defeat to eventual fifth-place finisher Mid-Prairie (32-11).
“Our hitting really got us up and kept us going on defense,” senior Paige Miller said of the Mustangs improvements in their second game.
“When we’re down hitting, we’re down defensively. Just getting both of those going, though not as much as we would have liked, kept us up more than the (Mid-Prairie) game.”
The Golden Hawks moved through their entire batting order in the bottom of the third to tally five runs on five hits and an error to pull away with a 6-1 cushion before tacking on two more runs in the fifth. Grego’s RBI groundout plated Callie Roseland before pinch runner Kelsea Anderson scored on a wild pickoff throw to third, accounting for the final margin as the 90-minute time limit came into effect two outs into the bottom of the sixth.
Fritz threw the first 2 2/3 innings surrendering six runs (four earned) on seven hits, while striking out two. Long – in her first pitching appearance of the postseason, tossed the final three frames allowing a pair of runs on two hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
“I was trying to get into the rhythm,” said Long, “I haven’t pitched for about three weeks, so it was kind of tough.”
The duo provided a potent 1-2 punch from the circle for the Mustangs, which bring back 16 players next season.
“Haley and I and work really well together,” said Fritz. “We’re strong.”
That pitching backbone is one of many reasons the Mustangs are hopeful of another trek to Fort Dodge in 2014, while also reflecting on this year’s eighth place finish.
“There’s 56 other teams that wish they were in our spot,” Hoskey said. “These kids earned it, they deserved it. … Did it go the way we wanted it to? No, but we’re still eighth in the state and we’re the only team that can say that.”
Mustangs coach Jary Hoskey said the senior leadership of Katie Roseland, Callie Roseland and Paige Miller had a major impact in multiple facets at East Marshall. “They just led us and the girls looked up to them. They’ll be sorely missed in East Marshall softball and athletics in general.”
Mid-Prairie defeated Estherville-Lincoln Central 6-2 in the fifth-place game.