Big, bad inning continues to bite Bobcat softball squad

Marshalltown softball coach Angie Lovell looked at the silver lining after Wednesday night’s loss to Urbandale.

A team that has been doomed by the bad inning all season, the Bobcats did their best to keep the damage to a minimum, but one crooked number was enough for the J-Hawks as they plated four runs in the third inning and defeated the Bobcats 5-1.

“We are coming together defensively. Before, it was a couple innings that we were struggling with. Now, we are down to one,” said Lovell. “We have some new faces out there. Every game we are getting better. We just need to keep working at it.”

The host Bobcats committed another four errors, struck out 11 times against J-Hawk freshman Bella Crow and dropped their sixth game in a row. Entering the game with a team batting average of .198, the Bobcats managed just five hits in the seven innings, two of which came from junior Maggie Carnahan.

Urbandale scored its first two runs without getting a hit following back-to-back Bobcat errors in the third. Crow helped herself out when she laced a two-run single that made it 4-1. The J-Hawks tallied an insurance run in the seventh as Crow scored on an RBI single by Jessi Carver.

Marshalltown starting pitcher Cassidy Blackford breezed through the first two innings without allowing a base runner before mistakes helped the J-Hawks get rolling offensively.

And Urbandale (4-5) executed several bunts that gave the Bobcats trouble in the third inning. Freshman Anna Simon began the inning with a walk and then Blackford stuck out Danae Dabney looking. Consecutive MHS errors put the J-Hawks on the board and then the Bobcats failed to get an out on another bunt by Mickey Cole. Allison Yoder flew out to center field, but the Urbandale lead grew to 4-0 on Crow’s two-out, two-run base hit.

It was the only hit allowed in the inning by Blackford, who was tagged for 10 hits in the game but surrendered just one earned run while fanning five.

“We usually do pretty well,” said Lovell of her team’s defense against the bunt. “We didn’t play them that well that one inning and had a few mental breakdowns. I really truly think that we are coming together. Every game we get better.”

The four-run third inning was enough support for Crow, who kept the Bobcats off balance the entire night.

Marshalltown plated its only run on two hits in the second inning, but the J-Hawk freshman struck out 11 on the night, including five in the final two innings. She pitched her squad to a win over Class 5A No. 2 West Des Moines Valley on Tuesday and has more than 30 strikeouts this week in the circle.

“She has been extremely successful lately,” said Urbandale coach Veronica Roshek. “She is spot on and knows the game really well for a freshman.”

Carnahan singled in the second and then her pinch runner, Reagan Mazour, stole second. Mazour scored the Bobcats’ only run of the game two batters later when Lexie McKown gave Marshalltown (1-8) the lead with an RBI single.

Kaley Mead singled in the first inning and the only other hits were doubles from Carnahan and Leiah Paustian in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. Marshalltown stranded four runners on base in the loss.

(Crow’s) rise ball was amazing. It looks really nice coming in there and then it would just break,” said Lovell. “That was the pitch we couldn’t hit, and we couldn’t lay off it.”

Skyler Shellmyer, Ashlan Burtan Cole and Crow each had two hits to lead the J-Hawk bats.

Blackford got out of two jams in the sixth and seventh innings. She retired the first two batters in the sixth but an error, a fielder’s choice and a Cole bunt single kept the inning alive before Blackford stranded the bases loaded after a fly out to left field.

The J-Hawks left the bags full in the seventh inning as well. Blackford hit Crow and then Burton singled. After retiring the next two hitters, Blackford then walked Dabney before Carver’s RBI single extended the vistor’s lead. Shellmyer’s ground out ended the threat but more damage to the scoreboard had already been done.

“We tried to (bunt) thoughout the game but really excecuted it well during that one big nning,” said Roshek. “(Cassidy was) pitching really well so that was the one thing we were able to do to get on base.

“That’s our game anyway. We like to play the short game to get on base and then our big hitters can drive them in.”

Notebook

The Bobcats have now only scored a total of four runs in their eight losses this year. … Marshalltown continues its homestand with a doubleheader against Central Iowa Conference Norther Division rival Mason City tonight at 6 p.m. … The J-Hawks beat Valley 9-5 in game one Tuesday before dropping the nightcap 6-2.