Softball can be a humbling sport sometimes.
On Monday, Newton was shut out twice and had five total hits in a conference doubleheader against Norwalk. PCM, on the other hand, cranked out 12 hits and scored 13 runs during a five-inning conference victory.
The scripts were flipped on Tuesday when the Cardinals faced the Mustangs at the H.A. Lynn Softball Complex.
Newton’s first hitter of the game walked and scored and it was a sign of good things to come for the Cardinals as they cruised past PCM 11-1 during a five-inning non-conference victory.
“We got the first runner on base and then was able to get her home,” Newton softball coach Kory Leiker said. “Hitting can become contagious and I think that’s what happened tonight. It was a good rebound from last night.”
It was an off night for PCM, which had been hot with the bats recently. The Mustangs were held to five hits and didn’t score until the fifth inning.
“I talked to the girls after the game about how we’ve been on tear with the bats and there will be nights when we just don’t have 10 plus hits,” PCM softball coach Shaun Hudnut said. “We may only get five hits one night, but we have to figure out how to manufacture runs, too.”
The Cardinals got production from several players in the lineup. None were more productive than the team’s lone senior though.
Chassidy Henwood opened the bottom of the first inning with a walk. She scored on a Kya Butler RBI double.
In the game, Henwood was 2-for-2 with three runs, three RBIs, one walk and one hit by pitch
She also was a menace on the bases, moving up a bag here and there when PCM’s defense was not watching her closely between pitches. She stole one base, too.
“She does a lot of that on her own. I get nervous sometimes but you just have to trust your players,” Leiker said. “They have been playing for a long time. If I trust them and they trust me, we’ll go a long ways.”
The Cardinals (7-5) scored two more times in the third. Madison Henwood was hit by a pitch and then stole second base. She came around to score following an RBI single by her older sister Chassidy, who came around to score later.
Madison Henwood was 1-for-1 with two runs and she also was hit by a pitch.
Newton finished with 12 hits in the win but also drew a pair of walks and was hit by five pitches.
“I just had to be patient. I struck out for the first time this season last game so I was mad about that,” Chassidy Henwood said. “Scoring early gave us motivation. If we don’t score, we get down on ourselves, but if we can get one early, it usually bodes well for the rest of the game.”
Newton’s first three runs came against PCM ace pitcher Paige Steenhoek. She was pulled from the game in the fourth and Newton plated its final eight runs against Ella Schendel and Riley DeVore.
“We are load managing this week. We have five games,” Hudnut said. “Paige has thrown a lot of innings and we want her fresh for conference games. We also want to see what we have in the others.”
In the three-run fourth inning, Chassidy Henwood’s contact at the plate resulted in a two-run single. Katelyn Lambert followed with an RBI single to make it 6-0.
Lambert’s two-RBI single in the fifth made it 10-1 and Butler ended the game after five innings with an RBI groundout to second.
Lambert finished 3-for-3 with three RBIs and a sacrifice bunt. Butler was 1-for-2 with two RBIs and she was hit by two pitches.
PCM got on the board in the top of the fifth when RaeAnn Duinink walked and moved up a base on a single by Schendel. Sidney Shaver’s RBI single brought home Duinink but courtesy runner Eliana Buswell was thrown out at home.
The Mustangs (5-6) were limited to five hits in the game. Two of those came from Riley Johannes, who was 2-for-2 in her first two at-bats and then was intentionally walked with two outs in the fifth.
Johannes is batting .500 through the first 11 games of the season and has yet to strike out. She also has not committed an error in the field.
“When we got down 3-0, we were mentally beat. We were down on ourselves because we didn’t score early,” Hudnut said. “That’s where we have to have the ability to gut check and come back and figure out how to get ourselves back in the game.
“I think some of our at-bats carried into the field and it led to some mistakes out there, too.”
Nevara Gray (3-3) started in the circle for Newton and got the win after allowing one earned run on five hits with one strikeout and two walks in 4 1/3 innings.
Kallie VanKley was summoned to the circle to get the final two outs in the fifth.
The walk she allowed was intentional but with a runner on second, she got the second out on a fly out to left and then ended the inning when she threw out Mustang clean-up hitter Joslin Briles after a ground ball back to the circle.
In her only at-bat, VanKley hit a two-run single in the fifth.
Chloe Swank finished with two hits, Maggie Garrett added one hit, one run and one hit by pitch, Kadance Ahn walked once and scored a run and Jazlynn Cooper also had a hit.
Paige Benson scored twice as a courtesy runner and Vanessa Vasseau and Mackayla Johnson scored one run each as pinch/courtesy runners.
“All of our runners did their job, the pitchers threw well and the bats came alive. It was a good team win,” Leiker said.
PCM, whose starting lineup includes seven sophomores, one junior and no seniors, got an RBI single from Shaver, Duinink walked and scored a run, DeVore walked once and Schendel and Belle Hudnut each had one hit apiece.
Steenhoek allowed two earned runs on three hits with three strikeouts, one walk and two hit batters in three innings in the circle. She took the loss and is now 4-2.
Schendel allowed six earned runs on six hits with one walk and two hit batters in her inning and DeVore got one out and allowed two earned runs on two hits with one hit batter in the fifth.
“It was just one of those nights,” Coach Hudnut said. “That’s part of the challenge. I think they can handle that but now it’s about moving on and getting ready to play tomorrow.”
Notes: The Cardinals did not win a game during last year’s 2020 COVID-19 year. They already have seven wins this summer. “It just feels nice to be winning again,” Chassidy Henwood said. “Last year with COVID and not winning, that was not fun. We are just having a lot more fun this year.” … Newton plays at Pella Christian on Wednesday with the varsity game starting at 7:15 p.m. PCM hosts Roland-Story at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Monroe. … Newton is currently without starters Grace Benson and Peyton Durr and reserve Addison Ross due to injury. ... PCM’s Riley Johannes is the younger sister of Newton assistant coach Bailey Johannes. Bailey Johannes was calling pitches against her sister in the game.