GRINNELL — At the onset of the 2013 season, Newton softball coach Ashley Ryan talked about what she expected to bring to the Cardinals in her first year as the program’s head.
She preached big run totals — doubles, triples and home runs — were in the very near future for the Cardinal girls. It has taken a little over a month, but Ryan may be fulfilling her promise.
The Cardinals traveled to Grinnell on Wednesday and smothered the host Tigers with run after run. Their relentless attack of doubles combined with timely bunting and stolen bases resulted in a mercy-rule shortened victory over the Tigers, 15-3.
“We were just aggressive at the plate,” Ryan said. “The girls just teed off on her tonight pretty much. Everyone, 1-9, put the ball in play pretty hard. It’s good to see. That’s two games in a row now where we’ve had an outburst like this. We were really swinging the bats hard.”
Newton dropped five big runs on the Tigers before an out was recorded in the game, seeing their aggressiveness pay off right from the get-go. Newton pitcher Ashton Hoffman then worked out of trouble in the bottom of the first to hold the five-run lead.
In the top of the second inning with Sarita Smith on first base, freshman Sydney Jenkins walked to put runners at first and second. With sophomore Sarah Kalkhoff at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Smith and Jenkins to advance. Kalkhoff then singled in both runners to push the lead to 7-0.
The scoring would continue for Newton in the top of the third inning. Frances Lucas led the inning off with a single, which was followed up by a single from Kari Adams, scoring Lucas to make the score 8-0. Jenkins followed that by doubling off the left field fence to add to the Cardinals’ already massive lead.
The game would finish early after just five innings. Up 10-3 to start the fifth inning, Jenkins hit another double, which scored yet another run for Newton to make to score 11-3. Kalkhoff’s subsequent single scored Jenkins, and Kalkhoff proceeded to score on a double by Hoffman. A double by Madison Bagnall scored Alison Ergenbright, who pinch-ran for Hoffman, to make the score 15-3. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fifth, Hoffman got a popup and a strikeout to finish off the Tigers.
Ryan has been looking for big run production all season. The team had its first big outburst of the season last Friday against South Tama, and to do this back to back suggests that the bats could be starting to heat up.
“We’re really trying to work on getting it through their heads, and this is what comes with it,” Ryan said. “Maybe the pitcher wasn’t the fastest tonight, but they were patient at the plate and drove the ball hard. The swings are coming along. So, we’re really on our way.”
Even though the Tigers chipped away at the Cardinal lead by putting up three runs in the fourth, Ryan saw great resiliency out of her team. She was happy to see that they stayed aggressive.
“They never let go,” Ryan said. “We never got down. They got three runs, big deal. We came back with five the next inning. That was huge.”
The win over the Tigers was Newton’s first in the Little Hawkeye Conference this season. With plenty of conference games left on the schedule, this could give the Cardinals some momentum heading into those games.
“It’s a great win,” Ryan said. “It’s always great to get a conference win like this, and that just gives us so much more momentum going into the other conference games.”