Heading into regional play in Des Moines on Thursday, all the regular season records will be meaningless, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Newton softball team was looking to find some momentum against Little Hawkeye Conference rivals Oskaloosa in a scheduled doubleheader on Tuesday evening.
Although the Cardinals were unable to secure a victory in their two games, they played two tight games with the visiting Indians, which bodes well for their competitiveness come postseason play.
In Game One, the Indians took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Newton would answer in the bottom of the frame. Freshman Sydney Jenkins walked to open the inning. She was sacrificed to second base on a bunt by senior Sarita Smith. Sarah Kalkhoff smoked a double to the opposite filed to drive in Jenkins, Madison Bagnall singled, but it wasn’t in a spot that allowed Kalkhoff to score, and runners were stranded on the corners.
It didn’t take long for the Indians to reclaim their advantage. Kylee Silliman singled to left field to lead off the inning. She would reach second base on a fielder’s choice. On a ball tapped out in front of the plate with two outs, Kalkhoff’s throw to first base clipped the top of Fran Lucas’ glove at first base, allowing a run to score.
The Indian picked up two more runs in the top of the fifth inning on a double by Kylie Hill scoring both Kristi Edwards and Peyton Zickefoose. Hill was later driven in on an RBI single by Silliman, giving the game its final score of 5-1.
In Game Two, Newton struggled at the plate yet again. The Cards pushed one run across the plate, while the visiting Indians scored three to take the doubleheader sweep.
The teams again matched runs in the first inning. Jenkins walked to lead things off for the Cardinals. She followed that up by stealing second base. Jenkins was sacrificed over to third base by Smith, and Kalkhoff’s groundout tied the game at one. The rally may have continued on a single by Ashton Hoffman, but Hoffman was ruled to have left early for first base and was called out.
The next Cardinal to find first base would be Lucas, who reached on a base hit in the top of the fifth inning. Her single was the only Newton hit in the final six frames.
Hoffman pitched both games and got the loss in both. She finishes the regular season with a record of 8-18 and an ERA of just above 3.30.
The Cards will kick off regional action on Thursday afternoon at Des Moines Hoover at 7 p.m.