Centennial runs away from MHS in a sweep
Maintaining momentum has proved elusive for the Bobcats all season.
And just as quickly, other teams have been able to pounce and pull away in a hurry.
Undone by a pair of big innings from Ankeny Centennial, the Marshalltown softball team saw a pair of mostly competitive efforts come apart, losing 10-3 and 11-2 in a doubleheader at the MHS diamond Wednesday.
The Jaguars padded a 5-3 lead with a five-run seventh in the opener and tagged the Bobcats for six runs in the third to claim control early in the nightcap.
MHS pulled within 4-3 heading into the third in game one, but tallied just two hits the rest of the way before missing a couple scoring opportunities in game two as the Bobcats (3-21) saw their losing streak stretch to nine.
Marshalltown twice had a runner in scoring position late in the nightcap but both rallies stalled as an impedement call between first and second halted their progress in the fifth and a baserunning gaffe cost them in the seventh. MHS also started the first frame with bases loaded and no outs, but stranded all three runners.
“That seems to be our story, we get that momentum and then we have some call or something that kind of stops it,” Lovell said. “You can’t do much about that, you just keep playing forward.”
Ankeny Centennial (11-12), previously ranked sixth before dropping out of the 5A polls, banged out 24 hits in the twinbill, while limiting the Bobcats to 11. The Jaguars homered three times, though none came off the bat of Class 5A leader Kendyl Lindaman, who doubled in a 1-for-5 outing in the opener, before being walked in all five of her plate appearances in the nightcap.
“This is a very good team, they’ve got one of the best hitters in the Midwest and Cassidy threw a great game against her,” Lovell said. “We’re really proud of the fact that we pitched against (Lindaman) and held our own that way.”
Blackford went the distance surrendering 10 runs (8 earned) on 12 hits, while striking out four and walking one. The junior fanned Lindaman and Maggie Syversen in the fifth to escape a jam, though Ankeny Centennial made up for it in their last two at-bats. Serena Moss singled in a run to stretch the lead to 5-3 in the sixth, before adding a three-run triple in the seventh to cap the Jaguars’ five-run surge. McKenzie Larson got the frame started with an RBI double and later scored on a passed ball as Ankeny Centennial pounded out 10 extra base hits on the night.
The Jaguars jumped in front immediately in the opener with Bailee Ballard hitting a two-run blast in the first. Moss added an RBI double in the second and another run came across when Lindaman reached on an error to make it 4-0.
The Bobcats battled back in their next at-bat with Leiah Paustian, Maggie Carnahan and Haley Vajgrt each singling, before Tabby Steffensen drew an RBI walk. MHS pulled within 4-3 when Whaley reached on an error off a slow rolling ball down the first base line.
Both teams went scoreless over the next three frames before Ankeny Centennial tacked on an insurance run in the sixth and broke things open with five more in the seventh.
“They have really strong hitters up and down the lineup,” Lovell said. “We’ve just got to keep bumping up defensively and getting better. Right now, we’re getting better every game.
“I’m so proud of these girls; our season hasn’t gone the way that we’ve wanted it to, but we’re going with it and continuing to dig deep. I think they’re really showing what they’re made of.”
Vajgrt’s RBI single in the second inning of game two knotted the score at 1-all, though the Jaguars negated it with six runs in the third. Larson smashed a three-run homer and Moss singled in another run, while two more tallies came through on a wild pitch and a passed ball to secure a 7-1 advantage for the visitors.
MHS left the bases loaded in the third and stranded nine runners in the game. Ankeny Centennial pounced on a miscue at the plate to make it 8-1 in the fourth as both squads committed five errors in the nightcap.
Paustian reached on an error to plate Blackford in the fifth, before the impedement call gave MHS its second out and stunted their rally. Shelby Stites tacked on a towering solo shot in the sixth and the Jaguars tacked on a couple more runs in the seventh.
Moss batted 8-for-10 in the twinbill, including a 4-for-5, 5 RBI effort in the opener. Ballard hit 2-for-4 with RBIs and two runs scored in game one and Larson hit 2-for-5 with two runs scored and three batted in for game two.
Paustian had the only multi-hit outing for MHS in the doubleheader with a 2-for-3 effort in game one.
Kaley Mead took the loss in game two allowing 11 runs (five earned) on 12 hits, while striking out two. Courtney Clayberg earned the win allowing two unearned runs on four hits in five frames of work. Serena Blank scattered six hits over seven innings in the opener and fanned five while giving up just one earned run for the win in the opener.
MHS will host the Bobcat Classic and Marshalltown Community College Friday and Saturday. The Bobcats open with South Tama County at 1 p.m. on Friday and face Colfax-Mingo at 2:45 p.m. The Bobcats face Class 3A No. 2 East Marshall (1 p.m.) and Marion (4:30 p.m.) Saturday.
“We have to take the momentum from today and carry it through the Bobcat Classic,” Lovell said. “They’re ready and they know that if we play this way, we can come out on top.”
The Bobcats will host MGSA night and Senior Night Monday vs. Fort Dodge.. … Eleven of Ankeny Centennial’s 12 losses came against ranked foes including three against Class 5A No. 3 Southeast Polk, two against 5A No. 7 Ankeny and two against 5A No. 9 Waukee. The Jaguars also lost twice to 4A No. 4 Fort Dodge and lost single games to 4A No. 1 Dallas Center Grimes and 4A No. 8 Norwalk.