WINTERSET — No one saw this coming. Certainly not Newton High softball head coach Casey Price who was confident in the Cardinals and their ability to hit, field, pitch and score on the diamond in 2020.
But just like the unprecedented 2020 season, which was shortened to just over four weeks by the coronavirus pandemic, the Cardinals were in uncharted waters as a program. With an 8-0 loss to Class 4A 10th-ranked Winterset on Saturday, the Cardinals finished the season winless — 0-18.
Saturday’s loss came in a Class 4A Region 3 semifinal at Winterset. Winterset (13-7) will host another Little Hawkeye Conference team — No. 6-ranked Norwalk (17-6) — in the regional title game on Tuesday. Norwalk got past No. 4 ADM (12-5) 2-0 in eight innings on Saturday.
Newton was 0-15 in Little Hawkeye Conference play.
“If we take what we learned this year and apply it on moving forward we’ll be going in the right direction,” Price said after finishing her third season at the helm of the Cardinal program.
“I think we all learned a lot about pushing though tough times and trying our best to stay positive. Winterset was a good team that hit well and played very good defense. We just didn’t have it this year.”
Newton faced Winterset sophomore Thea Banning, who is one of the top pitchers in Class 4A, on Saturday. Banning gave up just one hit, walked one and struck out 13 Newton batters for her 13th win of the season.
Banning also drove in the first two runs of the game with a single in the bottom of the second inning. The Huskies took a 3-0 lead when Lauren Carter led off the fourth with a solo home run. Jena Young doubled in two more runs to put Winterset up 5-0.
Winterset added two more runs in the fifth and one run in the sixth. The Huskies had 11 hits including three doubles and a home run.
“It is tough having two very good years and this year being a challenge in so many ways. Being able to get out and play was a blessing,” Price said. “My coaches — Gary Grimes, Caitlyn Meyer, and Amber Streyffeler — did an excellent job continually coaching the girls up every day. It takes a lot of work on everyone’s end to be a champion.”
The only Cardinal to reach base against Winterset was junior Chassidy Henwood. Henwood drew a walk to open the game in the first inning. She beat out a hard hit ball in the infield for a single in the sixth inning to break up a no-hitter by Banning.
Sophomore Kallie Van Kley started in the circle for Newton and pitched 4 1/3 innings. Van Kley allowed seven runs on 10 hits and three walks and struck out two. Jazzlyn Cooper, a sophomore, pitched 1 2/3 innings, giving up one run on one hit and striking out one batter.
Newton had a double play in the first inning. Winterset’s Bridget Stover lined out to Malarie Zach at third base. Zach threw to sophomore second baseman Kya Butler to double off Young at second. The Cardinals had one error in the game.
Newton had two seniors — Zach and Jenna Smith — on the roster this season. It had four juniors, 10 sophomores, three freshmen and 10 eighth-graders.
“When our kids are not putting in extra time, other teams are — it’s what we do out of season that impacts the season,” Price said. “Next year the kids will have matured physically and I hope they will have been working to hone their skills and have been battle tested from playing more competitive travel ball.”
Price said a lot needs to be done in the off season individually by the returning players such as attending open gyms and any camps or clinics. She said the team starts its open gym hitting sessions around Christmas and those need to be better attended by Newton players.
“Kids can’t just show up and expect to start and play at a high level. They are a very nice group of girls that seem to get along well. We struggled playing under pressure,” Price said. “We cannot be satisfied with losing. Hard work will go a long way with this group. They all seem to be very coachable.”
In October, the Newton coaches begin working with pitchers and catchers from second grade to high school. Price said Newton has some pitching coming up to help the upper levels, which will help a great deal.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535