An energized Newton softball team took the field against its Little Hawkeye Conference rivals, the Grinnell Tigers on Thursday evening. The Cardinals flashed some skills in the field early on and capitalized on their offensive opportunities late to come away with a 7-2 victory.
Ashton Hoffman got the win for Newton. She pitched each of the seven innings, giving up just two earned runs in the process.
Newton was aggressive from the get-go. Sydney Jenkins singled to lead off the game. She followed that up with a stolen base, and a sacrifice bunt by Sarita Smith moved her over to third. The only thing that kept her from scoring was a lunging play by the second baseman on a ball hit by Sarah Kalkhoff.
The Tigers jumped out in front early. Back-to-back singles in the top of the third inning put a runner in scoring position, and a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third base.
An unexecuted fielder’s choice loaded the bases with one out. The next Grinnell hitter laced a sharp single by the diving glove of shortstop Kari Adams. The Cardinals were able to turn a double play to escape the danger in the third.
In the bottom of the fourth, Newton finally got some of the “pop” it had been searching for all season. First baseman Madison Bagnall stepped up to the plate with a runner on first base, and she hit a bomb down the left field line that stayed fair and sailed over the fence to put the Cards up, 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Cardinals blew the game wide open. Kaitlyn Ahn singled to lead things off. Jenkins followed with a single and Smith reached via error to load the bases.
A double off the bat of Hoffman plated two Cardinals to put the home team ahead, 4-1.
Bagnall then hit an RBI groundout to make the score 5-1. Adams hit a squibbler down to third base that was mishandled, leading to another Cardinal run. Newton picked up its seventh run of the game on a single by Kalkhoff in the bottom of the sixth.
Hoffman got herself into some trouble in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with one out.
She walked in a run, but was ultimately able to close out the Tigers, giving the Cards the victory.