Newton High softball head coach Casey Price can see the young Cardinal team on the edge of breaking through. After being no-hit in Friday’s first game against Class 4A No. 14 Norwalk in a 10-0 loss, the Cardinals managed three hits in a 6-1 loss.
Then on Saturday at home, the Cardinals battled against Grinnell in another Little Hawkeye Conference game. They rallied from a 4-1 defect to lead 5-4 but lost 7-5.
“The last game against Norwalk we could feel the spark was starting to come. We’re competing,” Price said. “Today we got some key hits and our bunts down. We can feel it coming. We have to keep that positive energy up.”
Newton fell to 0-9 overall and 0-7 in LHC action. The Cardinals are on the road early this coming week playing at Pella Christian at 7:15 p.m. on Monday in conference play then at Boone on Tuesday in a non-conference contest, starting at 7 p.m.
The Cardinals host Class 5A No. 7 Indianola for a LHC varsity doubleheader at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday to finish the week. Newton opened the season on June 15 losing 9-0 at Indianola.
With Saturday’s makeup game, the Cardinals had played four straight nights against conference teams including 4A ranked Oskaloosa and Norwalk. There are four ranked teams in the LHC.
“The girls fought to the end so you can see where we’re starting to turn the corner. I’m proud of them,” Price said about Saturday’s game against Grinnell. “We went with a little different lineup and we’re seeing a spark.”
The Tigers plated two runs the top of the first and had single runs in the second and third innings to build a 4-1 lead over the Cardinals.
Newton had an opportunity to score more than one run in the bottom of the first inning. Junior Chassidy Henwood and sophomore Grace Benson drew back-to-back walks. Senior Malarie Zach had a RBI single.
With two outs, sophomores Maggie Garrett and Vanesa Vasseau were hit by pitches to load the bases. Grinnell made a pitching chance from Lydia Roudabush to Ella Grife. Grife got a groundout to end the threat and inning.
Newton made a pitching change of its own in the third inning. Price switched starter Jazzlynn Cooper for fellow sophomore Kallie Van Kley. Cooper stayed in the hitting lineup.
Down 4-1, the Cardinals came to bat in the fifth inning. Zach got things started with a leadoff single then eighth-grader Peyton Durr went in as a courtesy runner. Cooper went for a high pitch and bunted the ball hard in the air getting it past the pulled in Grinnell infield for a single.
The Cardinals took advantage of two straight Tiger miscues as Kealey Manning reach on an error to load the bases. Vasseau got on via an error as two runs scored and Manning was safe in a close play at third base.
With one gone, eighth-grader Kadence Ahn hit an RBI single to tie the game. Henwood delivered a two-out base hit to drive in the go-ahead run, 5-4.
Grinnell tried to tie the game up in the sixth. A two-out single had a Tiger base runner headed home but the throw from Newton center fielder Grace Benson got to Zach ahead of the runner. Zach tagged out Ashlyn Imhoff in a controversial play at the plate.
There was a collision and the ball did pop out of Zach’s glove. The plate umpire ruled Imhoff was still out as she failed to attempt to slide. The Grinnell coach questioned whether Zach was blocking the plate without the ball but the umpire explained the Newton catcher caught the ball on the bounce and moved into position to make the tag.
Newton led 5-4 going into the seventh. The Tigers used a leadoff walk followed by a double and single to score two runs to regain the lead. They tacked on an insurance run after a Newton error.
Newton had base runners in each inning including the seventh. They had two on via base-on-balls with one out and weren’t able to get a key hit.
The Cardinals did have eight hits in the game. Henwood and Zach each had two singles. Cooper, Manning, Ahn and sophomore Kya Butler had a single apiece.
Van Kley took the pitching loss as she went 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits, one walk and two hit batters. She struck out five. Cooper worked 2 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on five hits and one walk.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535