As the errors started to pile up for the Tigers, each one seemed more costly than the last.
MCC found the best way to put those mistakes behind them was at the plate.
Scoring in bunches with three innings of five runs or more, the Marshalltown Community College softball team made up for some early defensive miscues with its bats to sweep past North Iowa Area Community College at home Friday and extend its win streak to eight.
Brianna James smacked a two-run double and Kyndal Milder brought in a couple more as the Tigers rallied with a five-run fifth to claim the opener 6-4. Lexie Biehl bashed her second of two homers and Sarah Wilson added another as the Tigers sent 11 batters to the plate in both the third and fourth innings to run away with a 15-2 five-frame rout in game two.
The Tigers (26-14, 12-8) remain fourth in the Iowa Community College Division II standings after third-place DMACC (28-10, 14-6) swept Iowa Central – second in the league – on the road Friday.
But keeping pace with the Bears required not allowing their early mistakes to hang around for long.
“Every game you’re going to have mistakes. Our motto for the season is ‘If anybody makes a mistake, don’t pout about it. Just get over it and move on to the next play,'” MCC coach Tyrone Robinson said. “We adjusted to that with a little bit of hitting and (NIACC) also made some errors to give us some runs. That was big that we didn’t lose our composure and stayed strong.”
Biehl spotted the Tigers a 1-0 lead with a solo shot in the first but two errors in the third allowed Haley Johnson to score from second on a dropped pop fly to knot the score. Kimberley Wedeking reached on another botched fly ball to start the fourth and reached home on Nicole Young’s single, before Briley Emerson came through on a passed ball to put the Trojans (10-16, 2-14) up 3-1.
MCC got rid of the defensive demons with its bats – and the help of a couple NIACC errors in the fourth.
Emmeline Huffaker’s well-placed bunt loaded the bases and James evened the score with a roper to left that glanced off the Trojan leftfielder’s glove in fair territory before landing foul to result in a ground-rule double. Tacie Blunk and Shaiann Treu scored on the play and Milder followed with an RBI-single that plated Huffaker. The scoring continued on the play as a misthrow to second bounded into right field allowing both James and Milder to race home and give MCC a 6-3 cushion.
“We knew we were better than that,” James said of the early errors. “We just had to let that go in the past and focus on getting our hits and scoring. We couldn’t let the errors affect us mentally.”
Young’s RBI single cut the deficit to two in the sixth but Brooke Dunkin threw out her second runner of the afternoon at second and Wilson issued one of her 11 strikeouts to end the threat. Wilson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to wrap up a complete-game win (13-7), while allowing just two earned runs.
The Trojans outhit the Tigers 9-4 in game one, but also stranded twice as many runners (8-4) and couldn’t create enough offense off MCC’s four errors.
The Tigers played better defensively in the nightcap but it was a two-run shot by Brittani Sanchez in the third that served as MCC’s wake-up call. The Tigers racked up seven runs in the third and eight more in the fourth. Biehl hit an RBI single and Dunkin reached home on a Trojan error to tie it up. Wilson powered a three-run homer to right to bring in Biehl and Mackenzie Gott, before Treu and James also crossed the plate to make it 7-2 after three.
MCC picked right back up in the fourth with Wilson’s RBI single plating Biehl and Treu getting beaned in the helmet with the bases loaded to score Gott. Whitney Baker added a two-run single, Dunkin connected for an RBI-double and Biehl capped things by crushing a three-run shot to widen the margin to 15-2. Biehl finished 4-for-4 with three runs scored and 4 RBIs, while Wilson (2-for-4) also drove in four and scored twice. Baker plated a pair as Gott, Duncan and Treu all crossed the plate twice.
James fanned NIACC’s last three batters in relief and Gott earned the win (4-2) allowing two runs on four hits while striking out two in four frames. The Tigers host a Sophomore Day twin bill against Iowa Lakes (13-21, 3-17) today starting at 2 p.m. With a sweep, the Tigers will surpass their school-best mark for wins (27) from 2008.
The Tigers happened to find the gaps in the Trojans’ defense in each of their three big innings and Robinson credited his team for staying composed at the plate before breaking things open.
“It’s just about being patient and concentrating on how the pitchers are trying to work you. Once you make those adjustments you figure out how to work them,” he said. “If you hit them in spots where they aren’t, you’re going to look successful. If you hit them in spots where they are, you still feel happy about doing the right thing and making the adjustments to be successful.”