June 19, 2024

Newton softball bounces back in nightcap, salvages split against Oskaloosa

Five errors plague Cardinals in Game 1 loss

Leileigh Hammons

Neither Newton nor Oskaloosa were too fond of a few calls by the umpires during a Little Hawkeye Conference doubleheader on Thursday.

But the two games ultimately came down mistakes in the field. The end result of a split was decided after Newton committed five errors in a 7-6 loss in the opener and Oskaloosa was charged with seven errors in the Cardinals’ 6-4 victory in the nightcap.

“We gave away the first one and really it was too close in game two also,” Newton head softball coach Kory Leiker said. “We were the better team all around tonight. There’s no doubt. If we play the way we are capable of playing, then we’ll be fine.”

Mack Sims

Newton led 3-0 and 5-3 in the opener before a three-run fifth by Oskaloosa pushed the visitors to the lead. The Cardinals tied the game in the bottom half of the frame before the Indians scored the game-winning run in the top of the seventh.

Oskaloosa took the lead for good after scoring the run with two outs. The Indians singled, were hit by a pitch and reached on error before another base hit plated the winning run.

Mack Sims threw out an Oskaloosa runner at the plate for the final out to keep the margin at one.

There was a bit of controversy in the bottom of the seventh and it involved Sims.

She drew a lead-off walk but was called out after the Oskaloosa coaching staff argued that she made an attempt to go to second base before retreating back to first while the ball was in the pitcher’s glove in the circle. The umpires agreed after a brief conference.

Chloe Swank singled with two outs later and the game eventually ended with a ground out to second.

“It wasn’t the umpire’s fault we lost the first game. We shouldn’t have been in that position,” Leiker said. “Plain and simple. We put ourselves in those situations. We had multiple leads and couldn’t hold them.

“We had two outs in the seventh with nobody on base and they scored a run to take the lead. We have to clean our mistakes up. We are beating ourselves.”

The five Newton errors played a large factor in the Game 1 outcome. The Cardinals out-hit Oskaloosa 12-7, and Newton lost despite its homer and four doubles at the plate.

Paige Benson continued her red-hot hitting. She clubbed her second home run of the season, laced a double and finished with two RBIs.

“Once I started hitting the ball, I gained more confidence than maybe I had last year. That makes a difference,” Benson said. “I think we bounced back well after the loss. We’ve done well when it comes to bouncing back from a game like the first one, but we can always be better. We can still get a lot better in general.”

Swank led the Cardinals (7-5, 2-4 in the conference) with three hits, one double, one run and two RBIs. Her six doubles and 19 RBIs lead the team and she’s batting a team-best .450.

Kadance Ahn and Hailey Sumpter also had two hits, while Sims, Viana Vasseau and Makenzly Brant each totaled one hit.

Sumpter doubled, Ahn scored one run, Vasseau collected one RBI, Katelyn Lambert scored one run and Sims doubled, walked twice, scored two runs and stole one base.

Sims leads the team with an on-base percentage of .542 and has a team-most 17 steals.

Sloan Brodersen

Sumpter (5-4) started in the circle and took the loss after allowing seven runs — four earned — on seven hits, one walk and one hit batter. She struck out seven.

Oskaloosa scored first in the nightcap, but the Cardinals plated two in the first and four in the second to win. They held off a late rally from the Indians, who used homers to score two in the fifth and one in the seventh.

Sims opened the nightcap by reaching on a dropped third strike. She took second on a wild pitch and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Swank.

Benson singled and stole second before eventually scoring on Oskaloosa’s second error of the frame.

Benson took the team lead in total bases with 28 and her batting average is up to .415. She’s the team’s most improved player after batting .173 and registering 21 total bases last summer.

“She’s getting into a routine and is getting more confidence,” Leiker said. “She’s going up there looking at a beach ball coming to the plate.

“Her footwork in the outfield is tremendous, too. She’s one of the players who is carrying us right now.”

The Cardinals tacked on four runs in the second and five Oskaloosa errors were part of the story.

Newton sent nine batters to the plate in the frame. Peyton Durr led off with a single and Ava Williams reached on an error.

Both runners moved up a base on Lambert’s sacrifice bunt. Durr scored on an error, Sims walked and stole second and Williams scored on Sloan Brodersen’s RBI single.

Swank’s RBI fielder’s choice plated Sims. Sumpter also singled in the frame and a fourth run scored after another Oskaloosa error and a passed ball.

Newton couldn’t muster up any more runs after that. Lambert singled in the third and Sumpter walked in the fifth. Williams led off the sixth with a single and Sims drew a one-out walk.

The fifth inning ended with a double play on a line out and Newton also ran into a few more outs on the base paths.

“The little mistakes are getting us right now,” Leiker said. “Our base running hasn’t been great, and the defense made too many mistakes in the first game.”

Oskaloosa (7-7, 3-4) scored one run in the first after Jenna Harbour walked, stole second and was plated on an RBI double by Cylee Smith.

Katelyn Lambert

The Indians did not score again until Lydia Van Veldhuizen belted a two-run homer in the fifth.

That was the final inning for Leileigh Hammons, who improved to 2-1 in the circle after allowing three earned runs on three hits, one walk and two hit batters. She struck out seven.

Sumpter closed out the game and earned her first save of the season. She allowed a lead-off homer to Kobie Criss in the seventh and gave up three hits total in two innings.

One of those hits was a bunt single by Haylee Parker. The game ended though when Parker was called for interference following a slide into second base on a ground ball to Ahn at shortstop.

Ahn flipped the ball to Brodersen at second, but Brodersen was unable to make an attempted throw to first for the double play.

The Cardinals and Indians finished with six hits apiece, but the visitors were plagued by seven errors.

Newton’s six hits came from six different players. Brodersen had one hit and one RBI, Benson, Durr and Williams all finished with one hit and one run and Williams stole one base.

Sumpter totaled one hit and one walk, Lambert singled and Sims walked once, scored two runs and stole two bases. Swank had two RBIs and scored one run.

Sims improved her team-high run total to 26 and she has a team-best 11 walks.

“Our defense has let us down,” Leiker said. “It’s a long season. We’ll figure it out. We just have to clean things up.”

Notes: The Cardinals have won three of their last four games. Oskaloosa is 24-13 against Newton since 2009, but the Cardinals have won six of the last eight in the series. … The Indians came into the game with a .905 fielding percentage and an earned run average of 4.52.