NEWTON — A three-run blast by Sydney Jenkins got Newton’s Cardinals back in the game Wednesday night. The home run came in the third inning when the Cardinals were down 4-0 to visiting Pella’s Lady Dutch.
“We kept our heads up. We played defense a lot better after the first two innings and came up with the plays we needed to,” NHS senior pitcher Ashton Hoffman said following a come-from-behind, 7-4, win for the Cardinals.
Newton tied the game at 4-all in the bottom of the fifth. With two gone, Kari Adams singled and swiped second base. Jenkins drew a walk followed by an RBI double by Madison Bagnall.
In the sixth inning, the Cardinals made the plays — defensively and offensively — to win the Little Hawkeye Conference game.
A walk and a Newton error put Pella runners at third and second with one out in the top of the sixth. The Lady Dutch put down a squeeze bunt that backfired.
“I’m glad everybody was yelling ‘home’ because I was going to throw the ball to first. I just wanted the ball,” Hoffman said about her fielding play on the bunt. She threw it to Jenkins, the Cardinal catcher, who blocked the plate and made the tag.
The next Pella batter grounded out to Bagnall at first. It was still 4-4 with the Cardinals coming to bat in the sixth.
Katylin Ahn reached on an error to lead off the inning. Alex Hutchinson hit the ball hard to the Pella third baseman, who knocked it down, but Hutchinson beat the throw for an infield single. A passed ball allowed Ahn and Hutchinson to move up a base.
Fran Lucas earned a base-on-balls to load the bases. Ahn scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball with Newton’s runners moving up. Bailey Davis put down the suicide squeeze bunt to get Hutchinson home.
Another passed ball plated Lucas. Newton scored three runs to claim a 7-4 lead.
“The difference tonight came from us never giving up and how we supported each other,” said Lizzie Stock, senior shortstop, who made several key defensive plays in the final three innings.
“The dugout was cheering and we picked each other up after a mistake and went forward tonight,” Stock added.
Hoffman did not start the seventh the way she wanted — she hit the leadoff batter for Pella — “but I didn’t let it bother me,” she said. Hoffman got back-to-back ground balls to Stock at shortstop. Stock scooped up the ball and made the throw to second both times to wipe off the lead runner.
Hoffman turned and watched as Elyse Sadler lifted a ball to center field. Hutchinson squeezed the ball in her glove for the final out of the contest.
“With the issue of the lights ( a set of lights on the third base side near home plate is not working), we knew we had to score runs in the sixth. We didn’t know if we’d get to continue to play after that inning,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman got the pitching win, allowing five hits. She walked two and hit one batter. She struck out two. The Cardinal defense made two errors.
Pella scored three runs in the first inning and one in the second. For Newton, Lucas and Stock each had a single in the third and were on base when Jenkins hit the home run.
Bagnall had two doubles and Adams hit two singles.
“This was an overall team win and a must-win for us,” Newton head coach Ashley Ryan said. “It came down to making the plays we needed to make. We were aggressive on the base paths. We were the more aggressive team tonight and that’s the way we need to play all the time.”
Ryan said the sixth inning was about “heart and desire” from the Newton players. She pointed out that all the NHS players were engaged in the game.
“The dugout was cheering and supporting the girls out on the field. The girls didn’t let the first couple of innings get to them. They hung with it and battled back. I’m really proud of them tonight,” Ryan said.
Newton needed a win in LHC play after losing four straight this week. The Cardinals are 3-9 in conference action and 4-14 overall.
The Cardinals are on the road tonight at Ames in a non-conference game. They travel to State Center for the West Marshall tournament Saturday. They play Wilton at 11 a.m. and Collins-Maxwell/Baxter at 3 p.m.