BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – A varsity softball team hadn’t stepped on the field at South Park in more than eight years. And the outcome wasn’t what the Crusaders had hoped for.
Central Lee put up four runs before HTC could record an out in Tuesday night’s 12-0, three-inning affair in Southeast Iowa Superconference softball.
Zoe Eschman, Macy Watkins, Daly Brisby and Shanna Buford all reached base to start the game. Buford’s single drove in Brisby and Watkins. Eschman swiped two bases and scored the first run of the game on an HTC error.
After Holy Trinity’s Mary Hellige struck out Halo Arrowood, Meghan Hopp and Sophia Turner both doubled to right field, and Andrea Benner singled between shortstop and third to plate two more. Makayla Morrison would then single to deep left field to drive in Turner. Benner would score on an HTC throwing error, before Hellige would get Eschman to fan and Watkins to pop out to first to end the inning for a 7-0 Central Lee lead.
HTC managed just four hits on the night, with Hellige, Brooke Mueller, Laura Mehmert and Kelli Meierotto each getting singles. Hellige was stranded in the first inning after a single to left field.
Mehmert would single to open the second. Raquel Schneider would ground into a fielder’s choice, but Meierotto followed up with a single to left-center before two fly outs ended any chance of cutting into the Hawks’ lead.
Hellige pitched a scoreless second on seven pitches, but Central Lee would put up five more runs in the top of the 3rd forcing HTC to score a run in the bottom half to prevent the 12-run rule after three full innings.
Hopp tripled to open the top of the third and Turner followed up with an RBI single. Then Benner popped a line drive double to center scoring Turner. After a ground out, Eschman hit a pop up to center that HTC’s Schneider lost in the sun for a double.
Watkins singled before Daly Brisby lifted a fly to left center that was dropped scoring Eschman and Watkins. Daly was thrown out in a bang-bang play at the plate where HTC’s Brooke Mueller made a nice swipe tag as the Hawk slid for the back part of the plate. Buford would ground out to third to end the inning.
Turner got Anna Sobczak on strikes on a 12-pitch of the at-bat, and Mary Hellige flew out to center for the first two outs. Brooke Mueller lined a base hit into center field, but Kayla Box would ground out on a hard shot to third to end the game.
Eschman, Hopp, Benner and Turner all had two hits each in the win. Turner had 3 RBIs on the night to lead Central Lee at the plate. She also gave up four hits over three innings and struck out two for her second win of the year.
Central Lee Head Coach Tiffany Woodruff said she’s been very impressed with the hitting out of the gate for the Hawks.
“One of our biggest goals for the year has been to just keep hitting,” Woodruff said. “We started off yesterday doing great and we kept it going today, so hopefully we can keep that going throughout the week.”
The Hawks play every day this week through Friday. They play host to Washington on Wednesday with a 5:30 p.m. start.
But Woodruff said Sophie Turner’s work on the mound has been a good lift for the start of the season. The Hawks have given up just one run in two games this year, after holding Danville to just one run in a 6-1 win Monday night.
“Turner’s been pitching great this week. She’s work really hard. Everyone has been working on hard. We just want to keep it going,” she said.
For Holy Trinity, Hellige gave up 12 hits while striking out two, but didn’t issue a walk. She falls to 0-2 with the loss. Hellige also had one of the four hits for HTC with Mehmert, Mueller and Meierotto getting the others.
Head Coach Loren Menke said the despite the two losses to open the season, the girls are staying positive.
“I feel similar to how I did yesterday. We’re better than what the score showed,” he said. “But we’re staying positive, the girls are excited and have good attitudes. We’re still a very young team with no one having any varsity experience.”
He said Brooke Mueller had a solid game around the plate.
“She had a really nice hit there in the third and did a great job catching. She had that nice tag and then a good play on pop foul behind her.”
Holy Trinity falls to 0-2 on the year and takes on Danville Thursday on the road with a junior varsity/varsity matchup starting at 5:30 p.m.