Ankeny sweep pushes Bobcats’ slide to seven

The more losses that pile up for the Marshalltown softball team, the tougher it becomes to find confidence for the next set of games.

But Bobcat coach Angie Lovell still feels like her squad can put things together before the end of the season.

Unfortunately, MHS did not put things together against Class 5A No. 7 Ankeny on Tuesday at the MHS softball diamond. The Hawkettes collected 22 hits in the doubleheader and cruised past the hosts 16-1 and 19-7. Both games ended in five innings.

Ankeny has now won five of its last six games and 12 of 14 total while handing the Bobcats a seventh consecutive loss.

Marshalltown managed just three hits in the opener against Ankeny sophomore Allison Doocy and couldn’t keep up with the Hawkette bats in the nightcap despite scoring six runs in the first two innings.

“We got the bats going in the second game,” said Lovell. “The kids are down and when you are down and going through these losses, it’s tough. And it’s tough to come back and play well. The girls are fighters though and they know how to dig deep.”

Doocy kept the Bobcats (3-19) off balance in the opener and the only hits from Marshalltown came from the 8-9 hitters in the lineup. Haley Vajgrt had two hits and an RBI, while Lexie McKown had a hit and walked. Leiah Paustian walked twice and Tabby Steffensen also reached after watching four balls cross the plate.

Ankeny was given a huge lift in the opener from its top two hitters in the lineup. Olivia Parker and Olivia Brooks combined for five hits and two walks. Parker scored four times and drove in a run and Brooks scored three times and collected two RBIs.

Doocy improved to 12-5 in the circle and also helped herself with two hits at the dish. Sophie Buttjer had one hit, one walk, one hit by pitch and an RBI, while catcher Emily Bosch drove in two runs.

Ankeny plated two runs in the first, three in the second, six in the fourth and five in the fifth to end the game early.

Marshalltown’s lone run came in the fouth. Paustian and McKown both drew walks and Vajgrt came through with a two-out RBI single that fell just out of the reach of Parker in center field. The Bobcats stranded two runners on base in the inning though and left seven on in all.

The bats were better in the nightcap, but Marshalltown failed to keep up with Ankeny. The Hawkettes (17-9) collected another 11 hits but also drew 14 walks in scoring 19 runs.

Marshalltown scored three runs in each of the first two innings and led 3-1 after the first frame, but Ankeny sent 15 batters to the plate and scored 10 times in the second and never looked back. A six-run third inning put the game away for good.

“What killed us in the second game was the walks,” said Lovell. “I am proud of them though. This is character building and I really do think we can knock off a team if we can get it together.”

Kaley Mead and Cassidy Blackford had back-to-back RBI doubles in the first inning to give the Bobcats their short-lived lead. Paustian’s RBI single made it 3-1 and Blackford added a two-run triple and Paustian laced an RBI double in the second inning to close the gap to 11-6.

Blackford and Paustian had four of the team’s seven hits and accounted for five of the six RBIs. Blackford and Steffensen also scored two runs each. Steffensen and McKown drew two walks apiece as Buttjer, Ankeny’s starting pitcher, walked four, gave up six runs and was pulled in the second inning.

Brooks threw the final 3 2/3 and collected her first win of the season in the circle.

“We are getting smarter at the plate,” said Lovell. “We are being more selective on the ones we are hitting. We started to do that a little better up at Mason City and we did it a whole lot better tonight.”

Blackford took the loss in the opener after allowing 10 earned runs on 11 hits. She walked six and struck out four in the complete game. Mead lasted just 1 2/3 innings in the second game after surrendering nine earned runs on seven hits and five walks. Eighth-grader McKaylee Dawson twirled the final 3 1/3 innings and allowed eight earned runs on four hits and nine walks.

“It was big to get her some experience,” said Lovell of Dawson. “We need her and we need that third pitcher to be ready. She came in and did a good job and kept her composure for us.”

Parker finished the nightcap with another three hits and scored three more runs. On the night, she had six hits, scored six runs, walked twice and drove in three runs from her lead-off spot in the order.

Taylor Steinfeldt went 1-for-4 in the opener but collected two doubles and three RBIs in the game-two victory.

Notebook

The Bobcats continue their busy week with another doubleheader tonight against Ankeny Centennial. It will be the third doubleheader in three days for Marshalltown and it kicks off at 6 p.m. … Ankeny has seven wins over ranked teams this season. And of its nine losses, two came against 5A No. 1 Johnston, No. 3 West Des Moines Valley and No. 9 Waukee. The Hawkettes also lost to Class 4A No. 2 Solon, 5A No. 4 Southeast Polk and 4A No. 3 Carlisle. Ankeny has also beaten Waukee and Centennial twice and Southeast Polk, 3A No. 3 Clarke and 3A No. 4 Bondurant-Farrar each once. … Ankeny started five players in eighth or ninth grade in game one and six in game two. The ranked Hawkettes feature just four seniors and one junior on their roster.