NEWTON — It was a tale of two games at Berg Middle School’s softball diamond Wednesday.
Newton’s Cardinals weren’t able to curtail Knoxville’s Panthers in the opener, losing 6-3. In the night cap of the Little Hawkeye Conference doubleheader, the Cardinals turned the tables on the visiting Panthers.
Newton led 3-0 at the end of three innings, but back-to-back two-run innings put Knoxville up, 4-3. The Cardinals answered in the sixth.
Kaytlin Ahn quickly tied the game with a leadoff home run for the Cardinals. Fran Lucas reached on an error and moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Bailey Davis. The Cardinals took advantage of another Panther miscue as Lizzie Stock was safe at first and Lucas scored.
With two gone in the sixth, Sydney Jenkins drove in her third run of the game with a triple. Newton gained the lead and held on for a 6-4 victory.
“We talked after the first game about not giving up and fighting to win,” Newton head coach Ashley Ryan said. “They answered the question of ‘are you going to surrender or are you going to keep fighting to get a win?’”
Ashton Hoffman battled back from a tough first game in the circle to claim the pitching victory for the Cardinals in the second game. She gave up six hits, walked two, and struck out two. Stock came on in relief, working two innings of scoreless, hitless ball. Stock hit one batter and had two strikeouts.
The Cardinal defense tightened up behind Hoffman to play a mistake-free game. They made three errors in the first contest against Knoxville.
Jenkins led the offense on a 3-for-4 game with a single, a double and a triple. Ahn had the home run and Hoffman doubled. Lucas and Stock each had a single.
“We got the big hits when we needed it and Ashton did a good job pitching a lot of innings,” Ryan said. “Lizzie did a great job closing it out.”
Knoxville scored two runs in the third inning of the opener to take the lead. Hoffman and the Cardinals worked out of trouble several times to keep it at 2-0.
With two gone in the fifth, back-to-back triples by Lucas and Davis yielded a run for the Cardinals. Down 2-1, the Cardinals could not get the Panthers out before four runs crossed the plate in the top of the sixth.
In their final at bat, the Cardinals showed a spark with Hoffman reaching on an error. Audrey Lucas went in as a courtesy runner for Hoffman. Alex Hutchinson singled to keep the rally going. Davis delivered a two-run double with two gone, but that was it for Newton.
Hoffman took the pitching loss, allowing 10 hits, walking one, hitting three batters and striking out one.
Davis had a triple and a double in the contest. Lucas and Jenkins each had a triple. Stock and Hutchinson hit a single each.
The Cardinals are 5-10 in Little Hawkeye Conference play and 6-17 overall. They are slated to host Class 4A top-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes tonight at Berg field.
Newton plays in the Pella Christian tournament Saturday then gets back into LHC action Monday at Grinnell.