Seventh-inning stumble costs Cards vs. Pella
The Newton softball team is going to feel the sting of Friday night’s loss to Pella for a while.
Playing in its first home game of the season, the Cardinals played six quality innings of softball before all hell broke loose in the seventh, in which Newton essentially gave away a win to the Lady Dutch. The Cards led 3-1 and had Pella down to its last strike, but three errors and three hits in the inning allowed the Dutch to deliver a stunning 4-3 defeat.
“It doesn’t feel good. It’s disappointing and frustrating,” said Newton senior pitcher Courtney Meyer, who didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth inning.
“You can’t be secure until the ballgame’s over,” Cardinals coach Gary Grimes added. “In each game we’ve lost, we let up and don’t keep the intensity. You have to give it to them (Pella). They played it out.”
Meyer smoked a line-drive home run over left field in the bottom of the sixth to give herself an insurance run with a 3-1 lead heading into the seventh.
That’s where things got weird.
A dropped third strike allowed Pella’s McKenna Rozenburg to reach first base, but the Cards were still in good shape after the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice and Rozenburg was out at second. Meyer struck out the next batter.
One out away from a win, Meyer had the Dutch’s Morgan Ernst at a full count. But Newton’s downfall started as Ernst singled to right, an error allowed Lexi McGinley to score from first and another error on the same play advanced Ernst to third. Pella’s Allie DeMeulenaere followed by legging out a ground ball for an infield single that scored Ernst for the tying run at 3-3.
Things got chippy after that, as DeMeulenaere stole second just before Cardinals’ senior Brittney Northcott applied the tag. An altercation between the two resulted in both players being ejected, which caused a lengthy delay due to coaches’ discussions with the umpires.
The game resumed with Dutch senior Lindsey Mueller hitting a bloop single to right that scored the go-ahead and eventual winning run, making the score 4-3. Meyer struck out the next batter to end Pella’s half of the inning, and Newton couldn’t get a baserunner past first in the bottom of the seventh as the game ended on a fly out and groundout.
“We have to be tougher mentaly and play under control all the time,” Grimes said. “You could see, we were out of control the last inning. We lost our composure.”
“It’s different,” Meyer said with a laugh about the team’s seventh-inning meltdown. “That doesn’t normally happen. It is what it is. You have to let it go and move on to the next day.”
All things considered, Meyer pitched a gem of a game. In seven innings, she gave up seven hits and racked up 14 strikeouts. She had no walks, and only one of Pella’s four runs was earned. She didn’t allow a single baserunner until the Dutch led off the fifth inning with a double. She retired Pella’s first 12 batters of the game and had three strikeouts in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Meyer and the Cards were able to get out of dangerous situations in the fifth and sixth innings when the Dutch threatened to score multiple runs. Pella had runners on second and third with no outs in the fifth, but Meyer got three straight K’s to get out of it. The Dutch scored a run in the sixth inning as a Newton overthrow to third base went into the Cardinals’ dugout, for which Pella was awarded a run. The Dutch still had runners on second and third at that point with no outs, but two strikeouts and a groundout ended the inning.
When Meyer led of the bottom of the sixth inning with a home run, Newton seemed prime for a win.
“I was pretty confident,” Meyer said. “I didn’t take myself out of the game. I focused and wanted to pitch that last inning and get them out. I was so determined to win the game, and it just didn’t work out.”
Two baserunning errors following Meyer’s homer prevented Newton from scoring further insurance runners in the inning. Northcott followed Meyer with a single, but was caught in a rundown between second and third base on a groundout and was tagged out for a double play. Sophomore Madison Bagnall then drew a walk, for which junior Sarah Tingle pinch ran. Junior Ashley Gipe followed that up by legging out first base on a grounder, but Tingle was easily thrown out going for third.
Pella 4, Newton 3
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
P — 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 4 7 0
N — 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 5 4
WP: Bri Arkema (7IP, 3R, 3ER, 5H, 3W, 0K). LP: Courtney Meyer (7IP, 4R, 1ER, 7H, 0W, 14K). Pella leading hitters: Morgan Ernst 2x3 (2R), Lindsay Mueller 2x4 (RBI). Newton leading hitters: Meyer 2x2 (HR, RBI), Lizzie Stock 1x3 (2B, RBI), Alora Simmons 1x4 (2B, RBI), Brittney Northcott 1x3). Left on base — Pella 5, Newton 5.