Bobcat bats can’t quench drought

Mirred in a 14-game losing streak, the Marshalltown softball team has bigger things to worry about besides winning a game.

The Bobcats are having a hard enough time scoring runs, not to mention simply getting hits.

Ames handed Marshalltown its fifth consecutive shutout defeat in a make-up game Thursday afternoon at the MHS diamond, racking up its own season-high scoring output in a 15-0, five-inning victory in Central Iowa Conference Northern Division play.

The Bobcats (3-26, 2-6) haven’t won since the opener of a June 16 doubleheader at home against Ames, taking a 4-3 triumph before the second game was called off by rain.

Two and a half weeks later, Marshalltown is still searching for its next victory.

“It’s absolutely very frustrating for the girls, and it gets in their head,” MHS coach Angie Lovell said of the losing streak. “So now we go back to setting individual goals and team goals that are achievable.

“It’s the little things that you put all together and mentally you come together and it happens for you.”

Those stepping stones were nowhere to be found for the Bobcats in this game, as rival Ames (9-16, 3-5) racked up 14 hits and played error-free behind freshman pitcher Danielle Mallas. The right-hander had her best performance of the season, logging her first shutout and her first win (1-6).

Marshalltown managed just two hits against her. Kaley Mead reached with a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning and pinch-hitter Reagan Mazour led off the third with a grounder up the middle.

Aside from Lexie McKown walking twice, no other Bobcat reached base. Mallas struck out two and prevented any MHS runner from advancing past second.

“On a positive spin, maybe if our bats are down now, by the time we get to the (regional) tournament next week they’ll be going again,” Lovell hoped. “We were definitely at a peak and now we’re in a valley, and hopefully we come out of it next week and we’ll be ready to go.”

Marshalltown has managed just 19 runs in its last 14 games, not including the Bobcat Classic contest against Marion that was washed out by rain in a 4-all tie. In the last five games – the first four of which were against ranked teams – the Bobcats are batting just 9-for-103 (.087).

“We talked about how we played at (Class 3A No. 1) Benton, we played great, and I don’t know what happened today,” Lovell said. “We just have to take the motivation from those games, and that’s not what happened today.

“We played a really clean game and we played to our full potential (at Benton), and that’s all you can ask for out of your girls is to play the way we are capable of playing. Today we did not play as well as we’re capable.”

Marshalltown committed six errors defensively, though they only amounted to four unearned runs. Mead (1-14) surrendered 14 singles, walked three and hit two batters but struck out six in the loss.

Anna Myers went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs to lead the Little Cyclones, who ended a seven-game skid of their own. Kate Crow, Maddie Lynch, Hannah Lindsay and Hannah Kutchen pitched in with two hits apiece.

Ames scored twice in the first inning, once in the second, four times in the third and eight more in the fifth to finish off its third run rule-shortened win of the summer. The Little Cyclones sent 13 batters to the plate in the fifth, compiling five hits to go with three walks and two Bobcat errors.

“What it’s become for us, when you’re up and down like this, I think it has become more of a mental challenge,” said Lovell. “And it’s hard, when your record is like ours right now, it becomes mentally tough to battle back and you know you have another game the next day and two the next day and four more coming up.

“You don’t have much time to breathe in between and time to work on those basic things you need to based on a game like we had today.”

Practice or recovery time will have to wait as MHS heads to the 28th annual Iowa City West Rick Doran Classic today and Saturday at the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Softball Complex. The Bobcats face Davenport North at 2:45 p.m. and 5A No. 8 Pleasant Valley at 6:15 p.m. today. On Saturday, MHS meets two more ranked teams – 4A No. 15 North Scott at 9 a.m. and 5A No. 5 Muscatine at 12:30 p.m.